22nd January 08
What’s in a disease’s name?
What’s in a disease’s name? Long-hidden shame, perhaps. In most cases, as with lung cancer or heart failure, names are not much more than thumbnail descriptions. But for a few common illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease and for hundreds of rarer ones, doctors and patients often use names honoring the first doctor to publicize the illness or its symptoms.
Some doctors have criticized that as a source of confusion. Different names are used in different countries in some cases.