Home | News | Team wins $9.5m to research overtesting and ‘incidentalomas’

Team wins $9.5m to research overtesting and ‘incidentalomas’

Professor Paul Glasziou from Bond University heads up a team of Australian researchers – including professors Rachelle Buchbinder from Monash, and Chris Maher and Kirsten McCaffery from the University of Sydney – who have just received a $9,578,895 grant to investigate unnecessary testing and treatment of so-called 'incidentalomas', particularly in the areas of musculoskeletal diseases, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

In an interview with Nursing Review, Glasziou explains what an incidentaloma is and how too much testing can lead to trauma and illness, rather than prevent it.

He started by giving an overview of what overtesting and overdiagnosing is:

"The problem is that we're doing more and more imaging and tests on people and detecting things that look like a problem, but actually aren't even causing the person a problem," he said. "To give you one specific example of what's called an 'incidentaloma' – that is, something that's accidentally discovered – there's been an increase in the apparent amount of thyroid cancer over the last two decades, about three-fold in Australia. A lot of that appears to be due to when some of the imaging is being done at the neck, to look at the arteries in the neck. People also look at the thyroid and discover a little lump there, and then they end up biopsying it and finding some abnormal cells there, which can look like cancer, but wouldn’t have disturbed somebody in their lifetime."

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