Experts debate value of routine screenings

OVERDIAGNOSIS

COVER STORY SIDEBAR-Breast, prostate screenings are under scrutiny

The questions fly in the face of a medical concept that seems indisputable: The earlier the diagnosis, the better.

We learn the value of screening tests in movies, when a doctor shakes his head and says, "If only we'd caught it sooner." We read about in the newspaper, where articles lead with the survival stories of patients who say their lives were saved by a routine screening.

We see it in annual races and pink ribbons and T-shirts calling for more mammograms, hospitals and clinics offering free prostate cancer screenings and TV personalities undergoing on-air colonoscopies.

photo Dr. Lynn Swearingen uses this device to digitally capture images as she looks through a microscope to examine slides of tissues from a breast cancer patient at Parkridge Medical Center.