Dementia tests ‘would be disaster’

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The routine screening of all elderly patients for dementia would be a “disaster”, an expert is to warn.

The stigma and anxiety caused by being diagnosed with early dementia, before symptoms are apparent, greatly outweigh any benefits, Dr Chris Fox will say.

The fear is bolstered by the fact that there is no prospect 
of a breakthrough in treatment on the horizon, according to Dr Fox from the University of East Anglia’s medical school.

At present, routine screening does not take place in the UK, but some have called for it to be rolled out.

However, Dr Fox, who will be speaking at the TEDMEDLive healthcare conference in Bristol later today, will say the risk of misdiagnosis is too high.

“World figures for dementia are skyrocketing towards a predicted 60 million in around ten years,” he will say.

“There is no doubt that we 
are experiencing a dementia 
tsunami, with the crest of the wave yet to come. But rolling out routine dementia screening will be an even worse disaster in slow motion.

“People who are diagnosed with very early-stage dementia will be worse off than people who are not diagnosed until 
dementia is more apparent.”