Friday, September 11, 2015

Low risk 'cancers'

So is it cancer or not? Sometimes they can't tell. For example which cases of DCIS will go on to turn into a potentially fatal breast cancer. Or which cases of thyroid lesions will actually grow into thyroid cancer? There is a growing epidemic of new cases of thyroid cancer and the question is which cases that are discovered will actually turn into cancer that could be fatal and which will not.

So what do you do? A lot of people fear the word cancer so much they just want it out of their body. One school of thought for the thyroid lesions that should not become a problem is to rename them "papillary lesions of indolent course". That just sounds so 'benign'.....

So if the word 'cancer' is taken out of the discussion, active surveillance might be better. I mean why go through surgery, etc for something that doesn't require treatment?  "In many cases, active surveillance may be preferred over surgery by patients with small, relatively benign cancers that could take decades to grow to any appreciable size or cause life-threatening problems."

I have so many body parts currently under 'active surveillance' for multiple issues that I have lost count. I would be happy with that for additional body parts instead of surgery, chemo or radiation. This is much easier with thyroid cancer where the area can be easily ultrasounded and palpated to monitor growth. But not so much with DCIS where breast cancer can be much quicker to grow and harder to find.

Language can have a big impact on people's opinions of their diagnosis. The word cancer strikes fear into most people's brain. It paralyzes them, they are instantly going to die! But as more and more is learned about cancer, its detection, and treatment, maybe the best bet is to retrain our brains as to what will kill us and what won't.

An example is when AIDS was discovered it was instantly a terminal disease. Now people are living for decades with it and it is now chronic and not fatal. But the term AIDS still strikes fear into many but that is slowly calming.

I hope that the word 'cancer' also does not always strike fear into all as more and more of us are still around to talk about our diagnoses decades later.

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