Friday, September 2, 2011

Is cancer a medical condition?

I have gone back and forth on this in my mind several times. Is cancer a medical condition? When I was in treatment, I was happy to learn cancer is now treated as a chronic condition as opposed to a terminal one. That is a bit positive. Well, anything is more positive than terminal. But then is cancer a medical condition? I'm not sure I like having a medical condition (well I probably have several but I'm only talking about the cancer one here.)

Wikipedia defines 'medical condition' as:

'A medical condition is a broad term that includes all diseases and disorders, but can also include injuries and normal health situations, such as pregnancy, that might affect a person's health, benefit from medical assistance, or have implications for medical treatments. While the term medical condition generally includes mental illnesses, in some contexts the term is used specifically to denote any illness, injury, or disease except for mental illnesses. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the widely used psychiatric manual that defines all mental disorders, uses the term general medical condition to refer to all diseases, illnesses, and injuries except for mental disorders.[9] This usage is also commonly seen in the psychiatric literature. Some health insurance policies also define a medical condition as any illness, injury, or disease except for psychiatric illnesses.[10]

As it is more value-neutral than terms like disease, the term medical condition is sometimes preferred by people with health issues that they do not consider to be deleterious, such as pregnancy. On the other hand, by emphasizing the medical nature of the condition, this term is sometimes rejected, such as by proponents of the autism rights movement.

The term medical condition is used as a synonym for medical state, where it describes a patient's current state, as seen from a medical standpoint. This usage is seen in statements that describe a patient as being "in critical condition", for example.'

As noted in the last paragraph, critical condition, or stable condition, but a cancer condition? Is that my current state? I don't know if I like that. However cancer is something that might affect a person's health, benefit from medical assistance or have implications for medical treatments. So maybe it fits in that context.

But having a medical condition that is not going to go away anytime soon isn't a comfortable concept. The example used of a medical condition such as pregnancy - that has positive connotations and then goes away. But is a medical condition a handicap? Doesn't it denote poor health? I don't know about this one.

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