Choosing Wisely

Ask Your Doctor: Do I need this cancer test or treatment?

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PET, CT, or bone scans to check the stage of breast or prostate cancer

You don’t need the tests if cancer is found at an early stage, unless there are symptoms that worry your doctor.

PET scans after cancer treatment

These scans are not recommended for follow-up after cancer treatment. Ask your doctor about getting routine screenings. Ask about the signs of cancer coming back. If this happens, you may need scans.

PSA test for prostate cancer

You don’t need this test if you do not have symptoms and your life expectancy is under 10 years. There is no benefit to early diagnosis. That’s because the cancer is not likely to spread quickly enough to shorten your life.

Targeted therapy

These therapies treat certain kinds of cancer cells. They don’t work if you don’t have those kinds of cells.

Drugs to increase white blood cells

You don’t need these unless you have a high risk of infection or your white blood cell count goes way down because of chemotherapy.

Combining chemotherapy drugs for breast cancer

In most situations, one drug at a time works just as well. Even if your cancer has spread, combining drugs usually won’t help, unless you have specific symptoms or complications.

Drugs to prevent nausea during chemotherapy

There are many options. You should use the most effective and lowest-cost drugs available.

Stopping treatment for advanced cancer

You may want to stop treatment if it’s not working, especially if it makes you feel sick. Ask your doctor about care to ease symptoms (palliative care).


Advice from Consumer Reports