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August 26, 1944


JAMA. 1944;125(17):1190. doi:10.1001/jama.1944.02850350028010

In a recent and interesting discussion1 of preventive medicine occurs the statement:

Prompt and aggressive treatment—a purely curative process— takes on a strongly preventive coloring because it may forestall serious deterioration or death. This is true also of cancer, a nonpreventable disease of unknown cause which can nevertheless be cured in many instances by surgical removal or radiological destruction of the lesion. The full use of modern diagnostic facilities permits such intervention at a profitable stage in many cases of cancer which would otherwise go unrecognized until they were incurable. The gastrointestinal x-ray study which a careful diagnostician orders when confronted with certain abdominal symptoms is thus an important tool of preventive medicine.

Suffering and death from cancer are prevented by its cure and in that respect cancer is preventable. But the remark that cancer is a nonpreventable disease, presumably in the sense that its onset cannot be prevented,

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