Call to curb doctors' use of the c-word

New names should be considered for low-risk cancers, say University of Sydney researchers

Doctors should stop using the word cancer when discussing low risk conditions with patients in a bid to reduce unnecessary invasive treatments, researchers suggest.

New names should be considered for low risk conditions in response to mounting evidence that “more medicalised” labels can increase patient concern and the desire for more aggressive treatment, say the University of Sydney-led research team.

Removing the label of cancer may be particularly important for high-profile cancers such as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and prostate cancer, they write in the BMJ.

In DCIS, women are increasingly choosing more aggressive treatments such as mastectomy over lumpectomy even though these treatments do not improve breast cancer-specific survival, they say.

Similarly, studies show most men with localised prostate cancer still opt for radical prostatectomy or radiation therapy