Why is the zebra associated with NET Cancer?
In medicine, the term “zebra” is used in reference to a rare disease or condition, like Neuroendocrine (NET) Cancers.
– Medical students are thought to assume that the simplest explanation is usually the best, i.e., it is usually correct to look for common rather than exotic causes for disease. Doctors learn to expect common conditions, hence the phrase
“If you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.”
But zebras do exist, and the unlikely can and does sometimes occur.
– NET Cancers are often presented with symptoms of far more common illnesses such as Crohn’s Disease, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, and rosacea. When diagnosing patients who present with varying symptoms, we need doctors to remember that when they hear hoof beats it could also be a ZEBRA… therefore –
“When you hear hoofbeats, sometimes it’s a ZEBRA”
The NET Cancer community has adopted the zebra as our mascot, and international symbol. This because in the medical community the term zebra is universally used to reference a rare disease or condition.