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The Popularity of Predictive Medical Testing

A recent survey performed by the Tufts Medical Center finds that many would take a predictive test for prostate cancer. Christie Nicholson reports

My mother suffered from early-onset Alzheimer’s and so I have considered—albeit briefly—to take a predictive test for such an illness. But I wound up deciding against, mostly because I didn’t want the knowledge to alter my life.

But most people are not like me, according to a new survey out of the Tufts Medical Center. Apparently 76 percent of the 1,463 respondents would take a hypothetical test for Alzheimer’s, breast or prostate cancer, or arthritis. And they are willing to pay for it. Up to $600.

Responses varied depending on type of illness, cost and accuracy of the prediction. Willingness to be tested was greatest for prostate cancer (87 percent,) then breast cancer (81 percent,) then Alzheimer’s (72 percent.)

Interestingly, older respondents, women and those with higher academic degrees were less likely to take a test.   Living with the knowledge of the disease and lack of preventive measures were reasons given for declining.

Faced with a positive test result many respondents noted that they would change their behavior, like spend more time with loved ones, put finances in order and travel more.  

Hm, it’s food for thought isn’t it?   What would you do?

—Christie Nicholson

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