Not all cancers are created equal. Some low-grade prostate cancers, for instance, may never spread. Even some early-stage breast cancers may never turn deadly. Now some experts believe it’s time to rethink what we call cancer. As Gina Kolata writes in this week’s Science Times:
One thing is growing increasingly clear to many researchers: The word “cancer” is out of date, and all too often it can be unnecessarily frightening.
“Cancer” is used, these experts say, for far too many conditions that are very different in their prognoses — from “Stage 0 breast cancer,” which may be harmless if left alone, to glioblastomas, brain tumors with a dismal prognosis no matter what treatment is tried.
It is like saying a person has “mental illness” when he or she might have schizophrenia or mild depression or an eating disorder.
Now, some medical experts have recommended getting rid of the word “cancer” altogether for certain conditions that may or may not be potentially fatal.