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Cancer Screening: Is It Better Not To Know?

October 10, 2011

In yesterday's T Magazine, authors Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer posed an interesting question about prostate cancer screening: Can cancer ever be ignored? Their question isn't theoretical; it's a serious debate within the medical community over the effectiveness of prostate-specific antigen (P.S.A.) screening, a simple blood test that many middle-aged men receive regularly to screen for prostate cancer. While some believe that the easy, cheap means to early detection is a win-win situation, many argue that, given the complications caused by early detection and treatment?which include incontinence, impotence and, at worst, death?the answer to the question is simply: It would be better not to know.

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