The C2S blog draws on the arts, the social and biological sciences to explore the many meanings of health and "dis-ease." Designed to be a locus where patients, their families and professionals can meet on a level playing field, it is the natural off-shoot of the Cell 2 Soul Online Journal. We encourage the submission of ideas, essays, poems, stories, humor, and timely reviews relating to the humanities and health care.
“There’s a growing concern that many of the terms we use [when labeling a tumor] don’t match our understanding of the biology of cancer.” Calling lesions cancer when they are not leads to unnecessary and harmful treatment, he said.
An April 15th NY Times article by Gina Kolata explains this paradigm shift well.
This is an important step; but there are many other tumors that likely fall into the same category. As practitioners and as patients when we receive a diagnosis of cancer, it behooves us to question the necessity of aggressive treatment for indolent tumors. Breast, prostate and a number of skin cancers quickly come to mind, but there will be many others. The study reported in JAMA Oncology hints that we have a ways to go and that we are in the infancy of this endeavor.
An incidentaloma is a tumor (-oma) found by coincidence (incidentally) without clinical symptoms or suspicion. Like other types of incidental findings, it is found during the course of examination and imaging for other reasons. It is a common occurrence: up to 7% of all patients over 60 may harbor a benign growth, often of the adrenal or thyroid gland, that is detected when diagnostic imaging is used for the analysis of unrelated symptoms. With the increase of "whole-body CT scanning" as part of health screening programs, the chance of finding incidentalomas is expected to increase. 37% of patients receiving whole-body CT scans may have abnormal findings that need further evaluation. Since many incidentally found lesions may never cause disease, there is a huge risk of overdiagnosis.
When faced with an unexpected finding on diagnostic imaging, the physician faces the challenge to prove that the lesion is indeed harmless. Often, more tests are required to determine the exact nature of an incidentaloma. (Wikipedia)