Early Detection: When Do You Want to Know?

July 20, 2010 · 2 comments

Industry Insights from Paul Meade, M. Sc, MPH

There have been some recent announcements in the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease that will help patients determine the onset of early-stage disease. By combining imaging technology with some in vitro diagnostics that looks at specific biomarkers, physicians can provide some patients early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease. But there is still one important issue to deal with at this time. There is no really effective cure for this dreaded disease.

So the question is: when do you want to know? As medicine advances and newer and more effective diagnostics tools become readily available, the ability to detect diseases earlier can mean we have more time to treat such disorders. On the other hand, if there are no effective means of treating these diseases, do we really want to know? Proponents of earlier diagnosis state that knowing what is inevitable helps a person better prepare for such eventualities, such as getting one’s will in order, deciding to do many things that were put off for years, travel more to visit loved ones, etc.  Whereas opponents state that knowing about an impending disease that cannot be treated or controlled only leads to heightened anxiety and depression. So what’s the right answer? Of course, it depends on the person.

If individuals are free to choose when to ... read more »