Many people seem to have an incorrect and often distorted definition of the word remission as it is used in relation to those that have cancer. Quite often, people seem to believe that going into cancer remission means that the patient has been successfully treated, safe and completely out of harms way. However, according to the American Cancer Society, cancer remission is a period of time when the cancer is responding effectively to the treatment or has reached a point where it is under control. For any time frame the patient isn’t showing signs and symptoms, the patient is said to be in remission.
Typically speaking, cancer remission refers to shrinkage in the size of a tumor or to the change in some of the tumor markers. Tumor markers are substances – usually proteins – which are produced by the body in response to cancerous growths or tissues.
Traditional cancer therapies are successful in shrinking tumors and reducing tumor markers. For this reason, cancer remission is used as the indication of successful cancer treatment.
In the case of complete cancer remission, all signs and symptoms of the disease disappear. Complete cancer remissions may continue for several years and be considered cures. Someone who goes into cancer remission does not show signs or symptoms of the cancer, no matter how many cancer cells are growing and still going strong in the body of the patient.
Cancer remission doesn’t necessarily mean the patient doesn’t suffer complications from the cancer and die. For example: a patient is said to have been successfully treated for cancer if the therapies put them into remission, even if they die from pneumonia. Despite the fact that the pneumonia was only fatal because of the cancer therapies. Because the cancer remission existed it is considered a successful treatment.
To most people, no treatment that still results in death should be considered successful. However, when it comes to cancer remission, that is exactly what can happen when they pursue only traditional cancer treatment options.