The term “cancer” still sends chill down the spines of people. Many of the easily curable ailments are also being termed as “cancer” – for instance – prostate cancer. However, the doctors have suggested renaming the ailment with elimination of that C-word.
It has been observed that cancer cells do develop in almost all prostates as aging progresses. Further observations state that majority of prostate cancers happen to be harmless. Close to 34K US citizens succumb to Hormone Refractory Prostate Cancer every year, but a brutal fact that getting the ailment treated could result in incontinence and sexual dysfunction can’t be ignored.
As per doctors, having the C-word removed could result in doing away with unnecessary exposure to radiation and surgery, especially as far as low-risk patients are concerned.
Mellowing down on Naming
Dr. Scott Eggener from the University of Chicago states that low-grade Castration Resistant Prostate Cancer Treatment is the mildest form of “prostate cancer” that isn’t competent enough to spread to the body’s other parts. He extended his point stating a psychological fact that the patients, by merely hearing “You have cancer”, get mentally disrupted. This fear could, in turn, lead the patients to overreact and enter the vicious circle of radiation/surgery.
Dr. David Penson (Vanderbilt University) has affirmed that reduction of anxiety would reduce the likelihood of overtreatment.
The diagnosis for low-grade prostate cancer begins with PSA blood test, which, in turn, looks for higher levels of protein that could mean “cancer”, but not necessarily mean it! In fact, in 9/10 cases, it could be treated through simple means!
On test result being suspicious, biopsy may be recommended by the doctor, which could involve collecting samples from prostate gland. Secondly, the cells could be put under a microscope to check the abnormality therein.
The patients are generally given “Gleason 6”, the lowest score, so as to avert radiation and surgery. Active surveillance could be administered that implies close monitoring (no immediate treatment). It’s seen that around 60% of the low-risk patients in the US go ahead with active surveillance, but the cause of worry won’t subside.
Penson says that he is looking out for better nomenclature for Gleason 6 disease and also asking people regarding the same, so that people do get a better sleep at night with a not-so-dangerous name.
The names have been changed in the past regarding certain cancers. For instance – Low-risk cancers of thyroid, cervix, and bladder have been renamed much before. Coming to breast cancer, the debate regarding dropping “carcinoma” from “ductal carcinoma” is “ON”.
At the same time, experts like Dr. Joel Nelson from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine says that dropping the word could send across relaxation waves amongst the patients. In other words, the patients could turn casual with dropping of name.
The current scenario is such that “6” is looked upon as the lowest score as per Gleason ranking system (could be traced to 1960s).
The latest proposals in the offing regarding the name getting changed are IDLE (Indolent Lesion of Epithelial Origin) or INERRT (Indolent Neoplasm Rarely Requiring Treatment).