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Breast Cancer -- Don't Let Word Choice Influence Your Treatment Choice

When doctors avoid using the word "cancer" in describing ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), women are more likely to choose nonsurgical treatment options, according to a research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers presented some 400 healthy women with three scenarios in which DCIS was described as "noninvasive breast cancer," "breast lesion," or "abnormal cells." All three scenarios included the same treatment options and potential outcomes of treatment.

About two thirds of the women said they preferred nonsurgical options (medication or surveillance) when "abnormal cells" or "breast lesion" was used, versus only half when "noninvasive breast cancer" was used.