Spontaneous remission (also known as spontaneous improvement or spontaneous regression) is a phenomenon in which an untreated disease or condition suddenly disappears for no apparent reason. It is a regression to the mean as applied to health conditions. Along with misdiagnosis, this is one of the ways in which alternative medicine can seem to cure diseases such as cancer, and why anecdotal evidence is not reliable.
Examples for various diseases
The spontaneous remission rates for cancer depend on the type: according to studies done, basal cell carcinoma and breast cancer disappear in up to 20% of cases, while the rates for melanoma haven't been studied, but have been estimated to be around 10%-20%. Autoimmune hepatitis goes into spontaneous remission in 13%-20% of cases.
Misdiagnosis can interfere with recorded remission rates. Malaria misdiagnosis, for instance, is a problem in Asia and Africa. In one study, out of 414 patients going to hospitals using clinical diagnosis, 412 were prescribed anti-malarial drugs, even though 413 tested negative for malaria.
- Apparently Miraculous Cures: What Do They Tell Us?
- Spontaneous Regression of Melanoma May Offer Insight Into Cancer Immunology, Carrie Printz, J. Natl. Cancer Inst. (2001) 93 (14): 1047-1048.
- Study reveals surprising cancer remission rate, Dartmouth Medicine Magazine.
- Hepatitis Chronic — Medical Disability Guidelines
- How to optimize tuberculosis case finding: explorations for Indonesia with a health system model, BMC Infectious Diseases 2009, 9:87 doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-87.
- Natural History of Tuberculosis: Duration and Fatality of Untreated Pulmonary Tuberculosis in HIV Negative Patients: A Systematic Review, PLoS ONE 6(4): e17601. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017601.
- HPA — FAQs — Group A streptococcal infections
- RECURRENT DIABETES: SPONTANEOUS REMISSIONS AND EXACERBATIONS, B. Y. Glassberg, M.D.
- Spontaneous Remission of Diabetes, R. B. Haining and R. G. Haining.
- Overdiagnosis and mistreatment of malaria among febrile patients at primary healthcare level in Afghanistan: observational study, Toby Leslie, Amy Mikhail, Ismail Mayan, Mohammed Anwar, Sayed Bakhtash, Mohammed Nader, Clare Chandler, Christopher J M Whitty, Mark Rowland, BMJ 2012;345:e4389.
- Symptom overlap for malaria and pneumonia—policy implications for home management strategies, Källander K, Nsungwa-Sabiiti J, Peterson S., Acta Trop. 2004 Apr;90(2):211-4.
- Malaria misdiagnosis: an interview with Dr Toby Leslie, July 26, 2012.
- Conspiracy Planet: ADHD Conspiracy-Scam: Million US Kids Misdiagnosed
- Natural News:One million children misdiagnosed with ADHD