I was listening to a superb TEDMED talk yesterday by Otis Browley at our TEDMED at UA simulcast. He was speaking about the dramatic overtreatment of prostate and some breast cancers when they were in their early stages. Late in the 18 minute talk, he recounted an anecdote that I had not heard. It had to do with Dr. Donald Gleason and a meeting he had more than 50 years ago. Gleason is best known for the eponymous “Gleason Score” for prostate cancer.
Anyway, the story goes that he (Gleason) was attending a task force meeting with his peers. He was uncomfortable with using the term “cancer” for early-stage prostate disease. He favored “adenosis”. He was outvoted.
I can’t help but see the parallels 50 years on when we speak of wound infections. Are we overdiagnosing mild wound and diabetic foot infections? Certainly these need to be contained, but perhaps we can do so without calling them infection.
Words and language and taxonomy are important. I think they also change over time. To look forward, let’s look back on our forefathers less we risk suffer adenosis atrophy.