Doctor’s choice of words can lead to problems with diagnosis and treatment

A recent study shows that more women opt for surgery as a treatment as opposed to medication or observation if the word “cancer” is used in the doctor’s description of a diagnosis of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).

DCIS is a noninvasive malignancy involving the presence of abnormal cells inside a breast’s milk duct. It is NOT full-fledged breast cancer. However, over the past few decades, doctors and hospitals have been associating it with cancer.

Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society said, “It has become something people fear as if it is cancer, simply because people started calling it cancer. Even the ACS (American Cancer Society) website refers to it as cancer in places.” 

The negative connotation of the word cancer has driven many women to opt for the surgical choice. Even though only 20% of women who were diagnosed with DCIS would actually develop breast cancer, more than 90% out of 50,000 women who were diagnosed with DCIS choose to treat it with surgery—mastectomy or lumpectomy.  By opting for the surgical choice when it’s not necessary, thousands of women patients are put at risk.

Unnecessary surgeries can happen when the health care system doesn’t give patients all of the information they need or doesn’t explain patients’ options and choices so that they are well-informed of what the diagnosis actually means.

So before you make an important decision regarding surgery, make sure you understand the consequences and the full details of the situation – and that your doctor has taken the time to explain the options, risks and consequences of the medical treatment. And follow your gut instinct - get a second opinion, and don’t let the doctor make the choice for you and your family.  If you were severely injured from an unnecessary surgery or any medical mistake, call us today at (202)393-3320 to learn more.