Predicting vs. Diagnosing Alzheimer's

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

Once again, a major news source has published a high profile article about the utility of analyzing spinal fluid as a means of diagnosing neurological disorders like Alzheimer's disease. Today, it is this article in the LA Times.

While a great many of these articles waver unconscionably between the concepts of prediction and diagnosis, the LA Times article has taken a more responsible look at the full utility of spinal fluid as a bio-marker for many diseases. They present a balanced overview of how bio-markers may be used to better understand disease, to gauge severity and progression of disease, and to better measure treatment effects. In my opinion, this is an example of good journalism.

Less good are the recent (and more prevalent) articles that refer to recent research demonstrating the accuracy of a spinal fluid assay for diagnosing Alzheimer's, but then write sensationally about the ethical dilemma inherent in using the assay as a predictor for an incurable disease. While I concede that there are some valid downsides to predicting this incurable disease, it is a shame to overlook the value of the spinal assay as a pure diagnostic tool.

When a patient experiences cognitive difficulties and they seek a doctors opinion about the cause, it is very beneficial that physicians may now have an accurate spinal fluid test that can help them confirm, or rule out, the presence of Alzheimer's pathology.
A better understanding and more awareness of Alzheimer's related issues can impact personal health decisions and generate significant impact across a population of aging individuals. Please use the share buttons below to spread this educational message as widely as possible.

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