What’s in a name? Perhaps anxiety and overtreatment

Changing the terminology used to describe small papillary thyroid cancers may reduce patient anxiety, help them consider nonsurgical options, and curtail overdiagnosis and overtreatment, Australian researchers say.

"There have been high-level calls . . . from cancer experts in the US . . . to change the terminology of low-risk cancers unlikely to cause harm if left undetected and untreated," behavioural scientist Professor Kirsten McCaffery of the University of Sydney said by email.

"Our study was inspired by these calls and by evidence which suggests the low-risk indolent nature of papillary