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Unnecessary testing commonplace for breast cancer patients

New Jersey patients who have been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer should monitor their health, but the American Society of Clinical Oncology warns that many people without symptoms undergo tests with no proven benefit. Surveillance guidelines developed by the ASCO do not recommend advanced imaging or tumor-marker tests. for this patient population.

Multiple studies have produced almost no evidence to support the use of these tests for asymptomatic patients. Undergoing these tests could result in false-positives that cause people to undergo unnecessary procedures such as radiation. Because advanced tests after apparently successful treatment have shown no sign of improving quality of life for patients, the ASCO believes that the procedures unnecessarily drive up medical care costs.

The ASCO and the American Board of Internal Medicine have launched a public information campaign to educate clinicians and patients about the hazards and costs of unnecessary testing. A study that looked at 2,193 patients found that 37 percent of them had tumor-market tests, and another 17 percent had undergone advanced imaging. People in these groups paid medical bills much higher than the average breast cancer surveillance cost of $18,403 per patient.

A person who suspects that misdiagnosis or overtreatment led to higher costs or even a worsened medical condition might want to meet with a medical malpractice attorney to see what options might be available. One possible result that could prove to be negligence is if the patient was harmed by the unneeded radiation exposure caused by these tests. An attorney can use the opinion testimony of medical experts to demonstrate that the health care practitioner failed to exhibit the requisite standard of care.