The March issue of Consumer Reports, available online at www.ConsumerReportsenEspanol.org and at newsstands, reported healthy adults with no symptoms should stay away from tests for bladder, lung, oral, ovarian, prostate, pancreatic, skin and testicular cancers.
"We know from our surveys that consumers approach screenings with an 'I have nothing to lose' attitude, which couldn't be further from the truth. Unfortunately some have promulgated this belief, inflating the benefits of cancer screenings while minimizing the harm they can do," Dr. John Santa, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, said in a statement. "To help clarify when most consumers should use cancer screenings and when they should skip them, we rate each screening and whether it is useful for a specific age group."
The screening for cervical cancer gets Consumer Reports' highest score. It is recommended for women age 21-65, but women age 21 and under should skip the Pap smear, because the cancer is uncommon before then and the tests are not accurate for this age group.
The screenings for colon cancer get the top score for people ages 50-75, but screening is less valuable for people ages 76-85 and least valuable for those ages 86 and older and age 49 and younger.
The magazine recommends screening for breast cancer for women 50-74, but women in their 40s or those ages 75 and older should talk with their doctor to see whether the benefits outweigh the harm based on their risk factors.
Consumer Reports highlights eight cancer screenings that people at low risk should avoid.