New York: Screening people to catch early kidney disease may sound like a good idea, but there is no research to prove that it`s worthwhile, according to a new review.In the U.S., about 11 percent of adults have chronic kidney disease, the vast majority of whom have early-stage disease.The disease is very common among older adults -- more than 44 percent of Americans older than 70 have it -- and high blood pressure and diabetes are the main risk factors.In its early stages, chronic kidney disease usually has no symptoms. But there are blood and urine tests that can catch signs of trouble, so it may sound logical to use them to screen everyone for early kidney dysfunction.The problem is, no clinical trials have tested the effectiveness of widespread screening, according to the new review published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.Nor have there been clinical trials to see whether routine monitoring of people with early kidney disease improves their long-term outlook.Controlled clinical trials -- in which people are randomly assigned to have a particular intervention or not -- are considered the "gold standard" of medical research."This doesn`t mean (screening and monitoring) are not beneficial," said Dr. Howard Fink, a staff physician at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Minneapolis, who led the study. "The bottom line is that it`s uncertain."Fink and his colleagues conducted the review of existing research on this subject for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a government-backed advisory group. The panel is currently revisiting its recommendations on kidney cancer screening; right now, there is no recommendation for or against it.And that`s "unlikely to change," given the lack of clinical trials, according to Drs. Katrin Uhlig and Andrew Levey of Tufts Medical Center in Boston, who wrote an editorial published with the review.Before experts recommend widespread screening for a disease -- which, by definition, means testing symptom-free people -- they want evidence that the benefits outweigh the risks.
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