Screening for Osteoporosis Considered to Be Useless

A new study revealed the fact that many of the women who get screening for osteoporosis, the disease which thins the bone, do not actually need testing. In the majority of the cases, women over 65 are advised to get tested for osteoporosis. The test involves a scan, and it is considered to be very useful. In the case of the women who smoke, are advised to get tested when they reach the age of 50.

Too many useless screenings

However, according to the most recent study, 41 percent of 615 women who underwent osteoporosis screening, did not meet the criteria, and thus, they shouldn’t have gotten the screening. Dr. Peter F. Schnatz, of the Reading Hospital and Medical Center in Pennsylvania, the lead researcher of the study, stated that the reason why so many people got screened even though they did not have to is unknown. He stated that there might be cases when women might ask for screenings, or that doctors are unaware of the exact guidelines they should follow. They might believe that it is okay to test all the postmenopausal women.

Schnatz stated that the results are a little bit disturbing. The main reason for that is the fact that the testing has disadvantages, and can have some undesirable side effects. The screening is done with the aid of the dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry machine, or DXA. This is the only type of machine which can measure bone density. The bone scan is simple, and it does not have many side effects. However, the scan is expensive, as it can cost up to $300. There might be cases when women who get tested, are treated unnecessarily, for something they do not suffer of.

After a test, a woman receives a T-sore, which compares her bone density mass to the average bone density mass of a healthy woman. There are cases when the tested woman has low bone density, but she does not suffer of osteoporosis. However, even so, the doctor might prescribe hear treatment against osteoporosis. Treatment can include Fosamax, or Evista, which is a hormone drug that can mimic the effects of the estrogen.

Unwanted side effects

The problem is that these treatments can have side effects, such as breast cancer, heart diseases, increased chances of strokes, and so on. The bisphosphonate drugs such as Fosamax, can cause bone death of the jaw, or thigh bone fractures. It seems that from 615 women who took the tests, 41 percent of them did not need it. It is recommended for women over 65 or those over 50 whom smoke or have low body weight to get tested. Alcohol consumption and rheumatoid arthritis are also factors which could increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Shnatz stated that women should know these guidelines, and in the case their doctors recommend a scanning, they should ask them if it is really necessary, and remind him or her of the guidelines. They should not take the scans if they do not want to.

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