HEALTH

These Are The Medical Tests And Treatments You Don't Actually Need

And the ones that can actually be harmful.

22/10/2016 6:45 AM AEDT | Updated 22/10/2016 6:45 AM AEDT
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Do you need that test? Perhaps not.

Knowledge is power, but when it comes to your body, today's range of medical tests and treatments mean we can know more about our risk factors than ever before.

We can scan our brains, treat cancers before they appear and determine the genetic likelihood of a disease for as yet unconceived babies, but just because we can, should we?

As part of the international Choosing Wisely initiative, 23 Australian medical societies and colleges have joined forces to develop new recommendations about the tests and treatments you probably don't need, depending on risk factors.

Human Genetics Society of Australasia clinical professor Jack Goldblatt said healthy people who underwent genetic testing were often unnecessarily concerned by the results.

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DNA tests have never been easier or more affordable.

"Gene technology is moving so quickly that you can literally spit in a tube and send it off to America and they'll look at your whole genome," Goldblatt said.

"People are being given results that are concerning them -- these are well people that are having testing and perhaps there's only a small probability you'll get a disease."

Goldblatt said people were going to his clinic seeking clarification.

"We don't even see them anymore, we send back a template letter saying it isn't an appropriate test to be doing, but they start worrying because they're told they're at risk of all these different diseases and it explains all their vague symptoms and it really doesn't.

"We are cautioning people to not initiate testing on their own."

Some of the tests and treatments to be avoided unless specified by your doctor

Do not order herpes serology tests unless there is a clear clinical indication.

Herpes serology is not an appropriate screening test in asymptomatic patients and does not accurately confirm whether the person is infected or is a transmission risk to others from asymptomatic shedding.

Do not repeat colonoscopies more often than recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines.

Colonoscopy, with or without polypectomy, is an invasive procedure with a small but not insignificant risk of complications, including perforation or major haemorrhage postpolypectomy, depending on size of lesion.

Surveillance colonoscopies place a significant burden on endoscopy services.

Consequently, surveillance colonoscopy should be targeted at those who are most likely to benefit and at the minimum frequency required to provide adequate protection against the development of cancer.

Do not treat recurrent or persistent symptoms of thrush with anti-fungal agents without further clinical and microbiological assessment.

It is important to rule out other causes of thrush symptoms such as bacterial vaginosis or genital herpes first so that the other infections are not left untreated. Moreover, inappropriate use of antifungal drugs can lead to increased fungal resistance, especially in non-albicans species of candida.

Don't initiate whole-breast radiation therapy as a part of breast conservation therapy in women age ≥50y with early-stage invasive breast cancer without considering shorter treatment schedules.

Recent studies, however, have demonstrated equivalent tumor control and cosmetic outcome in specific patient populations with shorter courses of therapy. Patients and their physicians should review these options to determine the most appropriate course of therapy.

Source: Choosing Wisely Australia

Read the full list here.

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