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A Journal on Forensic Medicine
Minerva Medicolegale 2000 December;120(4): 215-24
Cancer: a certainly of probably incurable disease
The article describes the evolution of knowledge regarding neoplasms which is helpful for medicolegal reasons leading to the severe or fatal personal lesions in view of which we define cancer as a certainly or probably incurable disease. The essential requisite that makes a disease incurable is the continuity of the progressive funtional alteration that, in spite of treatment, will last until death and will only end in recovery in a few rare cases. Neoplasms (except for cases of undoubted and unambiguous eradication) represent a progressive morbid process, which is by definition one-way, resulting in an irreversible and progressive worsening at a largely unpredictable speed. It is hardly ever stopped and even if it may present a prolonged period of dormancy, it can start again, both locally and in other sites. It is therefore very improbable that it will ever result in recovery. The unique characteristics of this pathology therefore enable us to affirm that it is certainly or probably an incurable disease.