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To know or not to know: ethical issues related to early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

Review article
Authors Niklas Mattsson
David Brax
Henrik Zetterberg
Published in International journal of Alzheimer's disease
Volume 2010
Issue
Pages pii:8412941
ISSN 2090-0252
Publication year 2010
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Pages pii:8412941
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.4061/2010/841941
Subject categories Psychiatry

Abstract

In Alzheimer's disease (AD), pathological processes start in the brain long before clinical dementia. Biomarkers reflecting brain alterations may therefore indicate disease at an early stage, enabling early diagnosis. This raises several ethical questions and the potential benefits of early diagnosis must be weighted against possible disadvantages. Currently, there are few strong arguments favouring early diagnosis, due to the lack of disease modifying therapy. Also, available diagnostic methods risk erroneous classifications, with potentially grave consequences. However, a possible benefit of early diagnosis even without disease modifying therapy is that it may enable early decision making when patients still have full decision competence, avoiding problems of hypothetical consents. It may also help identifying patients with cognitive dysfunction secondary to other diseases that may be responsive to treatment already today.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012
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