Dementia screenings warning

The routine screening of all elderly patients for dementia would be a "disaster", an expert will warn. Speaking at the TEDMEDLive healthcare conference in Bristol today, Dr Chris Fox will say the risk of misdiagnosis is too high.

'No benefit' in dementia diagnosis before symptoms

The Department of Health has responded to warnings over routine dementia screenings.

It said there is "currently no benefit" in trying to diagnose people with dementia before they show symptoms of the condition.

Our preferred approach is for doctors to speak to patients that have symptoms such as memory loss, which could be caused by dementia. If dementia is suspected only then would further investigations take place. This approach is not the same as screening.

We do, nonetheless, encourage an early diagnosis and referral for those who show symptoms.

– Department of Health spokeswoman

Early diagnosis can 'turn someone's life upside down'

A health expert has warned against routine dementia screenings, stating that early diagnosis can "turn someone's life upside down", years before the dementia does.

Dr Chris Fox, from the University of East Anglia's medical school said:

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 their dementia is more apparent.

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Health expert warns over routine dementia screenings

A health expert will warn the routine screening of all elderly patients for dementia would be a "disaster".

Dr Chris Fox, from the University of East Anglia's medical school, said the stigma and anxiety caused by being diagnosed with early dementia, before symptoms are apparent, greatly outweigh any benefits.

Stigma and anxiety of dementia outweighs benefits of diagnosis, expert warns Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire

He added that fear is bolstered by the fact that there is not a prospect of a breakthrough in treatment on the horizon.

Speaking at the TEDMEDLive healthcare conference in Bristol later today, he will say the risk of misdiagnosis is too high.