Table 3

Example and frequency of full text themes (n=45)*

Theme descriptionExample%
Overall supporting renaming proposal73.3
Evidence points to need for change‘…the call follows a growing body of evidence that describing a condition using terms like 'cancer' can lead to an increased preference for more invasive treatments.’100
Negative impact of the cancer label on patients‘Using loaded labels such as ‘cancer’ can make patients more worried, the authors say, which can cause them to choose more aggressive management options—with more risk of harm.’100
Importance of the need for further deliberation‘Cancer Council Australia chief executive Sanchia Aranda yesterday said it was time for a global roundtable on whether the word cancer should be used when communicating with low-risk patients.’26.6
Positive towards the feasibility of changing the cancer label‘…the cancer label had already been removed from other tumours that evidence had clearly shown to be largely harmless.’24.4
Doctors support the change‘I think it's a great initiative,’ applauds Alvaro Rodríguez Lescure, vice president of the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology. ‘Once you describe an injury as cancer, the patient wants to cut it clean, even though it's not really needed, and you can do an annual ultrasound, for example,’ he argues.’13.3
Overall opposing renaming proposal2.2
Public education/better communication for patient instead of relabelling‘An alternative approach would be to recalibrate the thresholds so some very low-risk cancers are categorised as benign. If the public was educated that benign signifies very low-risk rather than no risk at all, then anxiety-inducing labels could be avoided.’24.4
Patients need to know the truth‘The newish president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Harry Nespolon says this proposal is dumbing down the advice given to patients. He says we always need to know the truth, the whole truth.’20.0
Doctors concerns‘But the concern about renaming cancer is that some patients may not be as diligent as they should be in managing their condition, like having regular screenings and check-ups… If people with these low-risk conditions drop-out of active surveillance the danger is that they will then develop invasive cancers that are too late to treat.’13.3
Negative towards the feasibility of changing the cancer label‘I think it is very important that the oncologists know the natural history of the various neoplasms…’4.4
Overall neither supporting nor opposing proposal†24.4
  • *Full text could have more than one theme applied.

  • †Combination of both the supporting and opposing themes.