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January 25, 1930


JAMA. 1930;94(4):266. doi:10.1001/jama.1930.02710300038012

The accepted view of the cancer cell, that it is an anarchist living selfishly at the expense of the organized social group of cells that constitute the human body, has commended itself to medical philosophers the more readily because they dislike cancer as much as they dislike an anarchistic philosophy. At first glance the analogy seems faithful enough, but it must be admitted that it has not led to any fruitful understanding of the causation of this disease. Dr. H. E. Robertson 1 challenges the conception as misleading. He points out that an anarchist, in cellular structures just as in the body politic, should arouse some opposition. In the human body there is found not the slightest anatomic evidence of any defensive or resentful phenomena in the neighborhood of a cancerous growth. The proliferation of a malignant condition appears to Robertson therefore as the evidence of an evil "miasma" constantly

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