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Books, Journals, New Media
December 8, 2004

Cancer Screening

Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor.

JAMA. 2004;292(22):2781-2786. doi:10.1001/jama.292.22.2784-a

In this engaging, clearly written book, H. Gilbert Welch, MD, MPH, attempts to make the case that, when it comes to screening for cancer, an ounce of prevention may, in fact, not be worth a pound of cure.

Written primarily for a lay audience, the book is divided into two parts. In the first, “Problems You Should Know About,” the author outlines the various potential downsides of cancer screening, including adverse effects of the invasive testing that often follows positive screening results; the detection of pseudodisease or early disease that may lead to unnecessary treatment; and the anxiety engendered by false-positive results, repeated cycles of testing, or the detection of disease for which the benefits of treatment are not known.