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January 30, 1937

IS CANCER A VIRUS DISEASE?

JAMA. 1937;108(5):394-395. doi:10.1001/jama.1937.02780050050016
Abstract

When Pasteur established the germ causation of disease, he opened a path by which hundreds of baffling diseases could be explained as an invasion of the body by microbic parasites. Specific prophylactic or immunologic therapy soon followed. Naturally, similar etiology was early suspected for cancer. Many organisms of various kinds were isolated. One heard of cancer houses, cancer regions, cancer epidemics. Many physicians still believe that cancer is due to some as yet unidentified bacterium, ameba or fungus. Years were required to disprove the idea that some micro-organism of the ordinary sort is the cause of cancer. There has persisted, however, one set of facts, repeatedly confirmed and established, which keeps alive the infective hypothesis; i. e., spontaneous malignant tumors occur in fowls, apparently due to agents that have the character of viruses. The Rous chicken sarcoma, named after its discoverer, Peyton Rous, was first reported in 1910. Much information

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