Most of us know someone who were told they had cancer and required some sort of therapy and removal of the tumor.
The term cancer itself brings up fears of surgeries, disfigurement and expensive therapies to save our lives, which does not necessarily mean you have been cured, and the follow-up can often mean years of constantly being checked to make sure the disease stays in remission. This is why the term cancer causes people to act irrationally, often motivating them to remove perfectly healthy breast or other tissue, due to the fear of what the ensuing disease may do in the weeks, months or years to come.
Some of the newer bio tech methods now in development hold promise for more effective cures which help the body recognize and destroy tumors which can grow because the body under normal circumstances often ignores their presence, and as a result, the immune system never acts to protect us by destroying the tumor. The new methods have the potential to help our bodies fight tumors by removing their invisibility to the immune system, which allows the body to attack and eliminate the tumor.
Being told you have cancer scares the hell out of people and leads them down a horrible path of both rational and irrational fears, actions and treatments that often just prolong suffering and do nothing to help us combat the disease.
Recently, a common cancer that is treated in the thyroid was reclassified as a non life threatening tumor. Often, having a thyroid tumor removed required a painful surgical incision and then if the organ was removed, years of thyroxin supplements to replace what was ordinarily produced by the organ. Now, these tumors are seen as normal variants that can be ignored. This is bad news for surgeons who just saw their portion of this business get 15% smaller. That’s good for us since it is one less thing we have to worry about and one less procedure that can be justified by a medical test.
This is not the first time a tumor was taken off the cancer list, giving many people who had a growth found a reprieve. I predict this list will likely grow larger over time, and unfortunately, those who had procedures done to treat a normal variance will have the scars to prove it.
Check this article out from the NY Times.
It”™s Not Cancer: Doctors Reclassify a Thyroid Tumor
By GINA KOLATA APRIL 14, 2016
An international panel of doctors has decided that a type of tumor that was classified as a cancer is not a cancer at all.
As a result, they have officially downgraded the condition, and thousands of patients will be spared removal of their thyroid, treatment with radioactive iodine and regular checkups for the rest of their lives, all to protect against a tumor that was never a threat.
Their conclusion, and the data that led to it, was reported Thursday in the journal JAMA Oncology. The change is expected to affect about 10,000 of the nearly 65,000 thyroid cancer patients a year in the United States. It may also offer grist to those who have been arguing for the reclassification of some other forms of cancer, including certain lesions in the breast and prostate.
The reclassified tumor is a small lump in the thyroid that is completely surrounded by a capsule of fibrous tissue. Its nucleus looks like a cancer but the cells have not broken out of their capsule, and surgery to remove the entire thyroid followed by treatment with radioactive iodine is unnecessary and harmful, the panel said. They have now renamed the tumor. Instead of calling it “œencapsulated follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma,” they now call it “œnoninvasive follicular thyroid neoplasm with papillary-like nuclear features,” or NIFTP. The word “œcarcinoma” is gone.