Do doctors who order more routine medical tests diagnose more cancers?

This retrospective, population-based study aimed to determine whether variations in the use of routine laboratory and imaging test by GPs is associated with variations in cancer detection rates in their patients. Administrative linked data in Ontario, Canada from 2008-2012 was utilized, covering 6849 GPs and their 4.9 million adult patients. There was a large variation in the use of the 23 included tests. Around 25% of GPs were considered higher testers for laboratory and imaging tests. The patients of higher test users were diagnosed with more cancers of the thyroid and prostate. These findings are consistent with the literature on screening and overdiagnosis for both cancer types. Future educational studies to address the overuse of tests could result in reductions in health care costs and utilization.

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