Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Words That Obscure

I love Susan Gubar’s column Living with Cancer in The New York Times.  Her most recent column is called "Words That Obscure" and it is about some of the terminology used in discussing cancer care.  Some of the points in this column concern the following:
1.  “Medical lexicons that appear to blame the people receiving treatment.”  Her example was for a breast cancer drug but I once had a doctor tell me that he would change my treatment after I “failed Sandostatin”.  Same concept, different drug.  Another quote from her column was “In the topsy-turvy world of cancer, anything ‘positive’ or ‘advancing’ spells trouble.  Yet a brain labeled ‘unremarkable’ after an MRI hardly conveys the good news it contains."
2. Terms and drugs that contain horrible and hard to pronounce words.  These include cachexia and ascites as well as double named chemotherapy drugs such as sandostatin/octreotide, affinitor/evorolimus or cap-tem (capecitabine-temozolomide).  She asks “Don’t we need a rubric for the growing population that must turn down the unpronounceable drugs because they are unaffordable?"
3.  Terms created by patients such as “scanxiety” and “chemoflage”. There is a hilarious discussion of acronyms created by patients such as:
·         BBP (bald barfing person)
·         PSHIFTY (person still hanging in fine thank you)
·         QIBIFA (quite ill but inexplicably fat anyway) and finally, one that was in the comments, not the column:
·         PhD (patient hasn’t died)

The link to the article is below:

 That’s it for today when the "non-historic" blizzard came to New York City!