What Exactly Do We Mean by Overdiagnosis?

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From The Lown Institute: “Is overdiagnosis inherently bad? Overdiagnosis not only leads to overtreatment but creates stress for patients who have to deal with this alarming diagnosis. However, avoiding overdiagnosis with less screening means by definition that we will find fewer cancers – some of which may have been beneficial to find. This is why being able to define and measure overdiagnosis is so important – because it gives doctors and patients context to make an informed decision about screening.”

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  1. “Overdiagnosis” is a problem in other areas of medicine. But the concept is VERY different in the realm of “mental illness.” Because at least when you’re talking about cancer, you can later go back and say, “Actually, this person never developed cancer but this one did.” Whereas with “mental illnesses,” there is no objective measure of what constitutes a “proper diagnosis.” So the concept of “overdiagnosis” is meaningless in a psychiatric context.

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