How Reliable Are Life Line Screening Tests?


Quick Answer

While Life Line Screening offers some valuable assessments, many of those tests are not reliable, can produce false positives, and are not recommended by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, notes National Public Radio. The USPSTF is an independent panel that recommends evidence-based medical treatments.

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Full Answer

These non-invasive tests can produce false positives, which might then require invasive follow-up procedures that have a possibility of injury or harm to the patient, according to NPR. A good example of this is the ultrasound screening for carotid artery disease. The USPSTF does not recommend ultrasound screening for carotid artery stenosis, because the screening produces many false positives for a condition rarely seen in the general population. The task force also reports that unnecessary screening could lead to unnecessary intervention and harm. Yet Life Line recommends this ultrasound screening annually for anyone over 50 years old or for those over 40 years who have risk factors.

In some cases, Life Line recommends a test to everyone who has risk factors, while the USPSTF only recommends an ultrasound screening test to specific groups, explains NPR. A good example of that is aortic aneurysm screening. While Life Line recommends this screening once a year to all with risk factors, the USPSTF recommendation is very different. The independent panel recommends a one-time screening for men between the ages of 65 and 75 who have ever smoked, and for male non-smokers between the ages of 65 and 75 if they have risk factors. The panel recommends against screening non-smoking women even if they have some of the risk factors; this is because there is no benefit to the screening and it could lead to overdiagnosis and overtreatment with risky elective surgery.

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