Exploitation -- it's the only word that comes to mind here.
Even as the mainstream moves away from routine cancer screenings for men and women alike, there's one group of Americans that are still getting screened regularly for cancers that almost certainly won't hurt them.
And that's the elderly.
These are the people least likely to need treatment even if a cancer is detected -- and least able to withstand the traumatic surgeries, dangerous drugs, and toxic chemotherapy often used to "treat” those cancers.
But the numbers don't lie -- and the newest numbers show that 57 percent of men between the ages of 75 and 79 were screened for prostate cancer, while 42 percent of men older than 80 were actually given PSA tests.
You have to wonder what the doctors are thinking here: They know these cancers can take decades to develop, decades an 80-year-old doesn't have. They know that even younger men have nothing to worry about in most cases. They know that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended doing away with the PSA test altogether.
They know all this... yet they're screening anyway, and not just men.
The same study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that 62 percent of women between the ages of 75 and 79, and 50 percent of women older than 80 have been given mammograms over the past two years.
And if PSA exams are useless for men, mammograms are every bit as useless for women -- so useless that even mainstream docs are backing away from them.
That's because all the mammograms in the world have barely made a dent in the breast cancer death rate. These screenings have succeeded in finding harmless cancers, which then end up being treated with disfiguring surgeries and dangerous radiation.
Similarly, the study also found that 53 percent of women between 75 and 79 and 38 percent of those older than 80 were given pap smears to test for cervical cancer.
It's ridiculous -- and even the mainstream groups that normally back most cancer screenings agree. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends ending pap smears as early as 65, while the American Cancer Society says there's no benefit after the age of 70.
In reality, many of these screenings have no benefit at any age. But for seniors, many of whom are already fighting health issues, these screenings, biopsies, and inevitable cancer treatments can turn the golden years into a living nightmare.
Skip ‘em -- because in this case, what you don't know almost certainly won't hurt you.