The BBC reports a call for routine screening for dementia for 75 year olds in the UK.
Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Diagnosing dementia is vital, it allows people to plan for the future, access treatments and support. It’s possible that screening people for dementia could lead to more diagnosis, but there are several questions to answer first.
Screening for any disease is not without controversy; dementia is no exception. The age at which routine screening for early signs of dementia takes place poses challenges. We do not currently have an effective treatment to alter the course of Alzheimer’s, meaning pre-symptomatic diagnosis will be of little benefit to patients. In future, as new treatments are developed, this could change.
A screening programme could boost research efforts. Identifying people with the very early signs of dementia could help improve clinical research; ensuring people who stand to benefit most are included in drugs trials. These ideal groups of people could see treatment development accelerated.
The ongoing research into improving diagnosis, such our own important work on the development of biomarker blood tests, could improve our ability to detect dementia to make screening more accurate. With more research we can better understand how accurate and beneficial screening for dementia might be, and the likelihood of a screening programme producing falsely positive or negative results.”