What is referral?

In medicine, remission is defined as a decrease in the symptoms of a chronic disease. People most commonly use this term in reference to cancers. When someone is in remission, it means the condition is not getting worse and may be actively improving, but a flare-up of symptoms could occur. It is not a cure; The use of the "cure" implies a total freedom from the disease, without the expected return of the symptoms.

There are two types of remission: partial and complete. In partial remission, the patient is making progress toward fighting the disease, but signs of the disease are still present. For example, when a cancerous tumor begins to shrink, the patient can be said to be in partial remission. In complete remission, the symptoms have completely stopped, but the patient may not be cured, because the disease could still be lurking in the body.

Signs of a disease may reappear after several years in complete remission, in which case the patient is said to be in "relapse." If a patient does not relapse after a set period of time, the doctor can go on and say that the patient has been cured, indicating that the need for intensive monitoring and concern is over. However, doctors are generally reluctant to declare a complete cure, because chronic diseases can be very difficult to manage and treat, and can lie dormant in the body for a long period of time.

As a general rule, when someone is in remission, it is cause for celebration, but the battle is not over yet. Especially cancer patients can be given false hope in that period, especially if they mistake that it is cured. During a period of remission, patients should still undergo regular testing and be closely monitored for signs of the disease returning. Routine tests may include scans with medical imaging equipment and blood tests, along with physical exams and casual interviews with patients to see how they are doing.

Sometimes a patient experiences what is known as a spontaneous remission. When this happens, there is no known cause for the referral. This type is more likely in younger patients with a strong immune system, although it can also occur in older patients. Despite efforts to explore the causes, medical researchers are not sure why some people completely randomly recover from chronic diseases, while others get sick and die from the same conditions.

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