Recurrence, Relapse, or Recrudescence After Treatment of Human Diseases. A Fact of Life

Recurrence, Relapse, or Recrudescence After Treatment of Human Diseases. A Fact of Life

Reynaldo O. Joson, MD, MHA, MHPEd, MSc Surg

July 26, 2011

Recurrence, relapse, or recrudescence is a common phenomenon after treatment of human diseases.

What is the meaning of recurrence, relapse, and recrudescence?

In medicine, “recurrence,” “relapse,” and “recrudescence” are words that carry the same meaning in terms of return or reappearance of a disease or its sign or symptom after a period of disappearance and cessation.

Recurrence:

The return of a sign, symptom or disease after a remission. (http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=5256)

Relapse:

The return of a disease after its apparent cessation. (http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/relapse)

Recrudescence:

Reappearance of a disease after it has been quiescent. (http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=19827)

 

What are the possible general causes of recurrence?

Primary cause of the disease or symptom or sign has not been eradicated or controlled with treatment.

Predisposing causes of the disease have not been eradicated or controlled.

There is inadequacy or incompleteness of treatment.

There is re-introduction of the primary cause of the disease.

 

Why is recurrence considered as a fact of life?

Considering the omnipresence or near omnipresence of the four possible causes mentioned above, especially in the presence of interplay of these causes, recurrence is a very frequent phenomenon after treatment of human disorders to the extent that it has become a fact of life (very very common occurrence but there is still such a blessing of non-recurrence).

What should physicians and patients do to avoid a recurrence after treatment?

Physicians and patients should collaborate and try their utmost best to avoid a recurrence.  They should try, individually and in collaboration, avoid or minimize the abovementioned four major causes of recurrence as well as other specific established causes.  However, realistically speaking, they can also do so much because of the obstacles of unknown causes of a great majority of diseases; obscured predisposing factors; inexactness of medicine; variations in human conditions;  unsafe environment; and unhealthy lifestyle, among other things.

If there is a recurrence, physicians and patients can only be blamed if they did not try their utmost best to avoid or minimize the causes that are within their capability or control.

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