Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

Font Size

Alzheimer's Feared, Misconceptions Common

Survey Finds Alzheimer's Second Most Feared Disease, After Cancer

Early Testing for Alzheimer's

Several research groups are developing tests for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, but they are not yet ready for prime time. These include imaging scans with radioactive tracers that detect the amount of Alzheimer's associated plaque in the brain and an experimental test that looks for changes in the eye that can precede the development of Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's Association spokeswoman Mary Sano, PhD, director of Alzheimer's disease research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, says she's not surprised so many survey respondents embraced early testing.

For starters, it allows families to prepare for the long road ahead while the patient's mind is still relatively intact, she says.

Also, many patients are hopeful that testing will rule out Alzheimer's, giving them peace of mind, Sano tells WebMD.

But other experts say they doubt respondents would have indicated such a willingness to be tested if they realized no effective treatment was available.

“Without a treatment to offer, it doesn’t do the clinician much good to know who is at increased risk,” says William Thies, MD, chief medical and scientific officer at the Alzheimer’s Association. Testing is still useful in the research setting, he adds.

Testing for variants in the ApoE gene that are associated with an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease were available for a while, and it became apparent that people did not want the test in the absence of an effective treatment, Thies tells WebMD.

About 35 million people worldwide have Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, and the number of cases is expected to triple to 106 million by 2050.

The survey was conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Alzheimer Europe. It was funded by Bayer AG, one of several companies developing an imaging test for early detection of the disease.

These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

Remember your finger
When it’s more than just forgetfulness.
senior man with serious expression
Which kinds are treatable?
senior man
Common symptoms to look for.
mri scan of human brain
Can drinking red wine reverse the disease?
eating blueberries
Colored mri of brain
Close up of elderly couple holding hands
mature woman
Woman comforting ailing mother
Senior woman with serious expression