Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters The word “cancer”

Precancerous lesions are more accurately termed “dysplasia”

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 09 October 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6024
  1. Joseph P Houghton, clinical senior lecturer (histopathology)1
  1. 1Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, UK
  1. Joseph.Houghton{at}

Precancerous lesions, often detected by cancer screening programmes, fascinate histopathologists. Microscopic examination shows some of the architectural and cytological features of malignancy but no invasion of surrounding healthy tissue.

As a practising histopathologist, I have always felt uncomfortable that patients with these conditions, such as ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast, are often told …

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