Usually, doctors are quick to label a tumor as cancerous, since catching the disease in its earliest stages is the best way to guarantee a good outcome for the patient. So it's huge news when a team of renowned specialists recently downgraded a type of cancer, and decided those tumors weren't malignant after all.
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So far, this only pertains to a type of thyroid cancer, but it does affect about 10,000 of the 65,000 patients who've been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, according to the New York Times. But the change in classification is enough to spare thousands of people unnecessary radiation, surgery, and expensive treatments. The difference between a noncancerous tumor and a cancerous one is simple: the clump of cells that make up the tumor are surrounded by tissue that prevents the wayward cells from breaking out and spreading. Most of the time, these tiny benign tumors stay that way.
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In fact, many cancer specialists hope this breakthrough will affect patients now diagnosed with early stage breast, lung, prostate, and skin cancers. There are some lesions that never turn malignant, but are treated as pre-cancers (or stage zero cancers). That's not only expensive, but emotionally gut-wrenching too.
If you're diagnosed with an early stage cancer, ask your doctor whether the tumor is encapsulated or not. If so, maybe you can bypass treatment for a wait-and-see approach.
Click through the gallery to see celebrities who are cancer survivors.
via TheIndependent.co.uk and NYTimes.com
Edie Falco: Breast cancer, 2004 Falco kept her treatment a secret from her Sopranos co-stars. “Surviving cancer has a way of making you re-prioritize," she's said. In her case, it meant starting a family.