Many medical tests become unnecessary as we get older. A test should be ordered only if the potential benefit outweighs the potential harm. For many older people who are in only fair or poor health, certain tests are likely to cause more harm, discomfort and anxiety than the diseases they might detect.

Example: Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening, which may detect prostate cancer, is not recommended for men with a life expectancy of less than 10 years.

Older men in poor health will probably experience only the adverse effects of the screening, such as psychological distress, additional procedures due to false-positive results and/or the complications of treating clinically insignificant prostate cancer.

Self-defense: Ask your doctor about the benefits before getting tested for any condition.

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