Medicine's Problem of 'Incidental Findings' | The Atlantic

The notion of 'incidentalomas' and their consequences is well-known among doctors. The lay public is less informed. In writing about one of her own experiences with a patient, Danielle Ofri MD says:

Nevertheless, I felt boxed into a clinical corner, forced to order expensive and complicated tests to rule out the minute chance of malignancy.

This is the ultimate outcome—more tests and more stress for patients. Both doctors and patients are risk averse and will almost always want to pursue further workup of an incidental finding. As noted in this article, we need to anticipate the likelihood of incidental findings and have a plan to deal with them. Be proactive, not reactive.