Taking a closer look at the word ‘cancer’
A panel of experts at the National Cancer Institute is recommending
doctors change the way they diagnose and treat some types of disease
that have little or no chance of being lethal. NBC’s Dr. Nancy
的方法。NBC的Nancy Snyderman博士报道 。
Good evening. Our lead story comes from the world of medicine.
It's about cancer, and it's about changing how we refer to it,
changing our definition of it. In part, it's about the minor stuff,
the comparatively smaller things discovered during screenings giving
them different names, making them a lot less scary. A panel of this
nation's top doctors now says even the word cancer is often misused.
They warn not all cancers are alike, not all are deadly so they
shouldn't be treated or talked about the same way. In plain English,
they want to stop wasting time, money and worry and concentrate on
what's important. It's where we begin here tonight with our medical
editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman. This is important stuff.
It is. Good evening, Brian. For many in the cancer world today's
step is long overdue in making the diagnosis and treatment of cancer
smarter and more cost effective. Turn the page of any dictionary, land
on the letter "C" and find one of the most frightening words no one
wants to hear, cancer. This one word carries a loaded and complex
meaning for millions of Americans every year. A panel of experts
advising the National Cancer Institute is recommending an about face
in the way doctors diagnose and treat some types of the disease that
have little or no chance of being lethal. In fact, the group is even
taking a closer look at what the word cancer means in some instances.
For example, in women the diagnosis ductal carcinoma in situ is a non
-lethal breast disease that should not be called cancer.
Whenever something is called carcinoma or cancer people immediately
want to act, and the reality is we should be watching them as opposed
to aggressively treating.
66-year-old Rue Harris wishes he had taken a conservative approach
to a possible prostate cancer diagnosis a few years ago. A high PSA
level had him and his doctor worried he might have the disease which
can be slow growing. He got a biopsy which came back normal, but that
process wasted his money, the health care system 's money, not to
mention costing him lost time and anxiety.
I spent that whole year between the first biopsy and the second
biopsy preparing to die. I wasn't enjoying living. I was scared of the
possibility that I might have cancer, and that I would die.
reporter: The organs most overtested for cancer, this panel says,
include thyroid, breast, prostate and lung.
Today's announcement is hopefully a big step in a long process.
some of these lesions are not aggressive and actually don't need to be
treated and can be watched.
Will there be some pushback? You bet there will, but there is no
smoking gun. Not an attempt to get insurance companies not to cover
people. It's to make our medical system work smarter for us, and the
next thing I think, Brian, we'll have to stop defining cancers by
organ systems and recognize that cancer of the lung has some
properties in common with other cancers like of the prostate and ovary
and start to treat them with regard to their genetics.
So it's about language, yes, but also prioritizing in what's become
a test-crazy nation.
Exactly. I mean, if you start CT scanning and MRI scanning everybody,
you're going to start seeing things that aren't normal. Does that mean
you should take everything out and treating people? The answer is no.
We know we waste one-third of our medical expenditures on things that
aren't worth chasing or aren't worth treating, and you know what? We
hurt people in the process. So the smarter we make this, the better we
That's why today was so impactful. Nancy, thank you as always.