I don’t know about you, but lately I have seen in the news the introductions of new cancer devices and cancer screening tests that are inexpensive and fast. For example, the other day I read about a prostate cancer screening device that is handheld and is very low-cost. I am not sure what exactly it screens for (perhaps Prostate Screening Antigen or PSA) and how it will be useful for the average person, but I believe the news mentioned that it is great for physicians in countries with few well equipped hospitals etc.
In another article another device that screens or detects the amount of anti cancer agents that are radioactive (for those types of agents that are linked to radioactive compounds that target and destroy hard to reach cancers). Again these were hand-held and inexpensive screening tools.
I have also seen that there are small kits that people can buy that will help them collect samples from their body that they can mail to get back complete cancer profiles. Now companies of course will also give you your entire genetic sequence and inform you of any risks you will have for virtually any conditions. Wow…things are getting kind of sci-fi like.
The list of new tools, kits, screening devices, and so on go on and on. It seems to be the fashionable thing now. However, what is uncertain is how much they will actually help in the long run. What would you do with a cancer risk profile or even a total disease profile risk chart ? Would you modify your lifestyle due to risks that were identified? Would you worry excessively? Would you live a less satisfying life as you constantly worry about dying from something the test said you were high risk for? Might you have no children as a result of your new concern…even if it was only a risk?
This is the risk of knowing your risks. It may sound great for insurance companies and health care professionals, but it might not be good for us. Many people do not go to see a doctor for years for the potential fear that the doctor may indeed find something and some folks just simply don’t want to know. I certainly don’t personally support that idea, but it is out there. The same certain goes for list of risk factors that may indicate something like this: you have a 20% higher risk than average of developing diabetes. What will you do with that information? SOme might celebrate and say, wow I am doing well and I don’t need to worry about such a low risk and others might say, I am doomed with such a high risk. The first person might continue to drink coke and eat junk food while the latter may drink water and eat fibre for the rest of their lives.
So, we are going to start to see changes in the information we get about our health or the health of our loved ones. We are going to start to think about things we never did before. It can be scary or it can be an opportunity to make our individual lives better….depends on which road you take and how you educate yourself.
- Prostate Cancer Risk in African-American Men (everydayhealth.com)
- Family History and Prostate Cancer Screening (everydayhealth.com)
- Rapid Rise in PSA Levels a Poor Predictor of Prostate Cancer (nlm.nih.gov)