In a prior blog, I listed arguments, that I have encountered over the years, against the the importance of precancer research. This is the first of several blogs where I respond to the arguments.
Argument. There is no such thing as a precancer. The lesions that are called precancers are simply early (or small) cancers.
Response. Some people question why we need to specify some lesions as precancers when we know that carcinogenesis is a multistep process and that every cancer traverses many un-named biological states as it develops into a fully malignant lesion. Why can't we recognize that precancers are just an early form of cancer and refer to the precancers by the name of its developed cancer? Wouldn't that make life a lot easier than naming and characterizing a new disease entity for the pre-invasive stage of every cancer?
Much as we all like data simplification, it just can't be done in the case of the precancers.
Precancers have specific, characteristic properties that separate them from cancers. They are not simply small, or early, versions of cancers. These properties, particularly spontaneous regression and the transition from non-invasion to invasion, deserve to be studied. If we are to study the biology of the preinvasive stage of cancers, we will need to have standard identifiers for this stage, so that all investigators will use the same morphologic features and biologic features to identify the same named lesions, Otherwise, the research results, from laboratory to laboratory, will not be comparable, and the field of precancer research will not advance.
Next blog in precancer series
First blog in the series
key words: preneoplasia, premalignant, preneoplastic, incipient neoplasia, pre-cancer, dysplasia, metaplasia, intraepithelial neoplasia, premalignancy, premalignancies, precancers, precancerous, carcinogenesis, pathology, cancer research, cancer funding, cancer research funding, funding for cancer research
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