Diagnosis

"You Should Apologize For Saying You Had Cancer (Because The NYTs Says It Probably Wasn't Cancer)"

Laura Zigman Health Guide December 14, 2011
  •   There was a piece recently in the New York Times about cancer. This, in and of itself, isn't unusual, since there are many pieces in the New York Times about cancer. What was unusual was what the piece suggested: Cancer should be renamed. Some cancers aren't r...

3 Comments
  • Phyllis Johnson
    Health Guide
    Dec. 14, 2011

    DCIS might be overtreated, but until there is a test to tell which cases of DCIS are safe to leave untreated, most doctors and patients want to get rid of those tumors BEFORE they become invasive.

    There is no reason to diminish the fear and agony a DCIS diagnosis causes.  Maybe it could have huddled there in a milk duct bothering nobody, but maybe one...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    DCIS might be overtreated, but until there is a test to tell which cases of DCIS are safe to leave untreated, most doctors and patients want to get rid of those tumors BEFORE they become invasive.

    There is no reason to diminish the fear and agony a DCIS diagnosis causes.  Maybe it could have huddled there in a milk duct bothering nobody, but maybe one day it would have spread out and endangered your life.  It's like saying it's OK to let a known murderer live in your house because he hasn't tried to murder you yet.

    I get the issue from the perspective of public health.  When dealing with huge numbers of patients, it's easy to talk about overtreating.  Losing either or both breasts if it is not necessary causes terrible anguish.  But as far as I know, no one yet has figured out how to tell which cases of DCIS are safe to ignore.

    I hope making the video was a theraputic way to process the information in the article.  I enjoyed watching it.  In my own treatment, there are several things we did that would not be done today because of advances in research.  It's important to try not to second guess yourself about treatment decisions.  You did the best you could with the information you had at the time.

    • Laura Zigman
      Health Guide
      Dec. 14, 2011

      Hi Phyllis,

      Thanks so much for your comment. Luckily, I have never second guessed my decision to have a double mastectomy after my DCIS diagnosis. I trusted my surgeon so much -- and continue to trust her -- so articles like this one in the New York Times concern me for others: it has to be clarified that there are different kinds of DCIS (some types more aggressive...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Hi Phyllis,

      Thanks so much for your comment. Luckily, I have never second guessed my decision to have a double mastectomy after my DCIS diagnosis. I trusted my surgeon so much -- and continue to trust her -- so articles like this one in the New York Times concern me for others: it has to be clarified that there are different kinds of DCIS (some types more aggressive than others) but it's impossible to know, at this point, which ones will become invasive and which will not. For me, 'better safe than sorry' was my thought. But for other women, less surgery is a viable and legitimate option. The most important thing (after getting the opinion and advice of top medical professionals) is to decide what's for you. Usually, there isn't just one right answer when it comes to treatment. But there is one answer that's right for you....

  • PJ Hamel
    Health Guide
    Dec. 14, 2011

    Cancer draws a line in the sand. Those who are told they have cancer stand on one side - those who've never faced that diagnosis, on the other. Now, you can listen to all the actuaries and scientists and professors in the world argue about what exactly constitutes cancer - but if you're told "You have cancer," you go through the same emotional agony as anyone...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Cancer draws a line in the sand. Those who are told they have cancer stand on one side - those who've never faced that diagnosis, on the other. Now, you can listen to all the actuaries and scientists and professors in the world argue about what exactly constitutes cancer - but if you're told "You have cancer," you go through the same emotional agony as anyone else who gets the diagnosis - whether it's stage 0, stage 4, or a total mistake. Since you were diagnosed, Laura, a lot more data has been gathered and analyzed; it now appears up to 40% of cancers may not need any treatment at all; may lie fallow in your body forever. But unless and until researchers find a way to determine which cancers are probably harmless, and which potentially deadly - who wants to roll the dice and forego treatment? You did exactly the right thing; you did your homework, consulted the best doctors, then made the decision that was right for YOU. Don't look back with regret; look forward, with hope and happiness. You've got a lot to live for and, thank God, you've got a great chance of doing just that: living. Take care- PJH