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Doctors rarely discuss risks of cancer screening

Reuters, October 22, 2013

Doctors seldom tell patients about the possible harms of getting screened for cancer, a new study shows. During any screening test, there is a chance of so-called overdiagnosis - finding something that looks like cancer but isn't, or a cancer that's so small and slow-growing it would never cause a problem. In those cases, patients may get biopsies, surgeries, radiation and drugs that won't bring them any benefit, but could come with side effects, known as overtreatment. "Usually when you talk to your doctor, you only learn about the benefits," said Odette Wegwarth. She led the study at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.