National Cancer Institute Calls for Redefining "Cancer" - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

National Cancer Institute Calls for Redefining "Cancer"

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       "Cancer." It's a word so scary that upon hearing the diagnosis, patients often choose treatments that are more aggressive than necessary. With a growing concern of over treatment in the medical community, experts at the National Cancer Institute have recommend changing the definition of "cancer" to eliminate this word from some very-low risk diagnoses.
        Over treatment, such as opting for a double mastectomy for certain forms of breast cancer that are highly unlikely to spread or even cause harm. The NCI states that over treatment  brings  both the patient and practitioner higher costs, and may even hurt the patient.
         But not everyone agrees on redefining "cancer" as a solution for over treatment.
"I don't necessarily agree they should be relabeled," said Dr. Conrad J. Stachelek, Radiology Oncologist at the Regional Cancer Center in Erie. "I think we just need to develop better ways to figure out which (cancers) need to be treated.
The patient has to be aware that some of these - a small percentage - have the potential to spread and become malignant."
         Stachelek emphasized that these  low risk cancers are just that - low risk, not risk free.
 "There are many [cancers] that will not do anything at all within the lifetime of the person who has been diagnosed. On the other hand a few of them will get aggressive and can result in death," he said.
         The NCI is considered the nation's leader in cancer research. Though  it will likely be years before any official changes take place, it does push for reform in the approach to both cancer treatment and detection.
       Stachelek adds that there is also a legal climate to the situation. If an abnormality appears on a test, the doctor is liable to follow up and ultimately, let the patient choose the treatment.

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