New safeguards are needed to protect patients from the “irresponsible” direct marketing of private health screening tests, according to medical leaders.
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the British Medical Association believe people are being “exploited” by misleading advertising for private screening.
They warned that many of the procedures available are inaccurate and unreliable, with some individuals taking the tests being given false reassurance.
A strengthening of marketing rules for health screening is needed to ensure that advertising is “balanced” and “factual”, they said.
Proposed safeguards would require all marketing material to include details of the risks and limitations of tests, the implications of the results and any follow-up procedures.
There should also be information on the health benefits from a test, including the evidence for this health benefit.
Doctors say that results from procedures such as the prostate specific antigen test for cancer - administered in GP surgeries when a person has shown symptoms - needed to be explained to patients.
They have also warned that individuals should not be given results for tests such as cholesterol levels without receiving advice based upon their full medical history.