What's in a name?

From time to time I have commented on the controversies over cancer screening. Most people assume that screening is an unqualified good, that early detection of cancer saves lives. Whenever some panel proposes recommending less screening, we hear screaming and yelling from advocates who claim they are trying to " ration " health care to save money at the expense of people's lives.In fact,as a bunch of Australians and a Minnesotan explain in BMJ, there are a few conditions called " cancer " that you are better off not treating, or perhaps treating very conservatively. These include what is called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which is very commonly found by mammography, whereupon women are told they have breast cancer. Another such condition is low risk localized prostate cancer. A huge problem has emerged as doctors have started screening for thyroid cancer and thousands of people are having their thyroids removed, but mortality from thyroid cancer has not decreased. It turns out that most people are found to have " thyroid cancer " on autopsy, which never caused them any trouble, just as most men are found to have " prostate cancer. "In the case of DCIS, it is possible to remove the lesion (called " lumpectomy " ) which doesn't cause much harm. However, many women opt for more radical treatment, sometimes including total mastectomy and often radiation and chemotherapy, with the attendant side effects. Men who have their pr...
Source: Stayin' Alive - Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

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