Recently, a report with recommendations of a working group of the National Cancer Institute was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The report advocates changing the definition of cancer and eliminating the word from medical diagnoses in cases where it is deemed unwarranted resulting in over-diagnosis and over-treatment to the detriment of the patient.
Rich Evans, a colleague of mine in Arizona who grew up in Michigan, shares insightful thoughts about this in a recent blog post.
Here’s an excerpt:
“The lesson here is that the name of a disease is not the truth about anyone. It is a point of view, the accuracy and consequences of which can vary considerably. It is bold for this report to break from historical labeling patterns. The direction of the report is encouraging in the elimination of unnecessary fear and treatment and in its acknowledgement that perhaps mitigation of disease starts by avoiding names that alarm, for what we hold in consciousness about disease may play a large role in outcomes.”
You can read Evan’s article here: What’s In A Name?
Link to New York Times article by Tara Parker-Pope that Evans cites:
Scientists Seek to Rein In Diagnoses of Cancer
Link to the report in the JAMA:
Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment in Cancer – An Opportunity for Improvement