Hippocrates Shadow

David Newman, M.D.

Number needed to treat is an important method of deciding the importance of a test or procedure.  How many people would need to be treated to provide one person with the benefit.  If the benefit is huge and the downside of treating someone who will receive no benefit, then a large number to treat may be acceptable.

Some of the highlights from the table below include the questionable benefit of screening mammograms, the lack of benefit of screening for prostate cancer with a serum PSA, and the problematic decision of postmenopausal HRT therapy.