2022: "Diagnostics: Why accurate is not enough"
Take Alzheimer's disease: Genetic testing can now be used to diagnose relatively reliably whether a person has hereditary Alzheimer’s disease and will thus develop the condition in the course of his or her life. Moreover, the presence of the disease, or more specifically, the abnormal protein deposits in the brain that are typical for Alzheimer's, can easily be detected by means of an amyloid PET scan. But what is the point of early detection if there is no effective treatment? Some say it helps those affected and their families to prepare for the future and make the corresponding decisions. But others argue that people may then have to live with the burdensome diagnosis for many years without really being able to do anything about the progression of the disease during that time.
Questions like these have been the focus of this year's IQWiG Autumn Symposium. IQWiG Director Jürgen Windeler notes: "The decisive factor is always which consequences arise from a diagnostic procedure and whether the patient is aware of them - before undergoing the respective procedure, of course. This applies just as much to prenatal diagnostics for identifying signs of malformations and disorders in the unborn child, to COVID-19 tests in the pandemic, and to the early detection of various types of cancer (which can in no way be generally equated with cancer prevention). At the IQWiG Autumn Symposium we would like to discuss the benefit and harm of medical diagnostics and also of screening programmes. What constitutes good medical diagnostics? When is less more? What about the right not to know? And what studies are actually needed to be able to assess the benefit of diagnostics?"