Oncologists recommend cutting five common cancer tests

With a view towards improving both patient care and the cost and value of that care, a task force of in excess of 200 oncologists assembled by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has recommended putting an end to five common cancer tests.

The task force said that both medical considerations as well as expenses were major factors in reaching their conclusions. The five tests, known as "Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question"are:

1. Don’t use cancer-directed therapy for solid tumor patients with the following characteristics: low performance status (3 or 4), no benefit from prior evidence-based interventions, not eligible for a clinical trial, and no strong evidence supporting the clinical value of further anticancer treatment.

2. Don’t perform PET, CT, and radionuclide bone scans in the staging of early prostate cancer at low risk for metastasis.

3. Don’t perform PET, CT, and radionuclide bone scans in the staging of early breast cancer at low risk for metastasis.

4. Don’t perform surveillance testing (biomarkers) or imaging (PET, CT, and radionuclide bone scans) for asymptomatic individuals who have been treated for breast cancer with curative intent.

5. Don’t use white cell stimulating factors for primary prevention of febrile neutropenia for patients with less than 20 percent risk for this complication.

Oncologists are just one of many specialties that took part in the national "Choosing Wisely" campaign, organized by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation and Consumer Reports magazine.

You can read more about each evidence-based recommendation at the "Choosing Wisely" web site (opens as a PDF).

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