Testing for cancer could lead to more harm than good - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Testing for cancer could lead to more harm than good

New recommendations from the nation's top cancer doctors are changing the way we think about cancer, as well as how we go about fighting it. In some cases, this method could make it less scary for those who are diagnosed.

The idea is to change the definition so that cancer doesn't mean the same thing for every diagnosis. A panel of experts advising the National Cancer Institute is recommending that since not all cancers are deadly, not all should be defined, or treated the same way.

For example, the experts say there is a type of breast cancer that is not considered lethal and some prostate cancers are very slow growing.

"Whenever something is called cancer or carcinoma, people want to react but we should watch it instead of aggressively treating. This is a big step it's been a long process of what can be watched and not treated aggressively," says Dr. Otis Brawley with the American Cancer Society.

It's estimated that Americans waste 1/3 of medical expenses on unnecessary treatment, especially when it comes to testing the thyroid, breast, prostate or lungs.

Since those tests could ultimately hurt the patient in the process, this recommendation is aimed at changing the language of medicine, to make it easier to know what really needs to be checked.

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