On Monday, a panel of experts advising the National Cancer Institute proposed changing part of the definition of cancer and taking the word out of some conditions. Not obvious full blown cancers but they’re talking about some of these potentially precancerous lesions. That may or may not develop into cancer but have the word in their name.
Two of the biggest examples come from breast and prostate cancer biopsies. For instance, one breast biopsy lesion is called ductal carcinoma (which means cancer). In some cases it could go on to cause cancer but on its own, it’s not cancer. There’s also a similar situation with prostate biopsy called PIN, where the ‘n’ stands for neoplasia which is a fancy word for cancer and it isn’t cancer. Sometimes it doesn’t progress at all.
The word cancer may cause fear and for many people they will do whatever it takes to get healthy. They want to get aggressive for anything that even sounds like cancer. Many of these treatments may not be necessary and may have side effects which in the end could have been avoided completely. So the idea is that if we take the word cancer out of the name it will make patients feel more assured.