January 1, 1973

No Radical Surgery

JAMA. 1973;223(1):64-65. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220010050013

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In the original CURRENT CONCEPTS IN CANCER series on Hodgkin's disease in The Journal seven years ago, this contribution was written by Danely Slaughter, a distinguished surgeon, who championed the radical surgical attack.56 From his remarks, one would have had to conclude that surgeons and radiotherapists are adversaries, and that saving a patient from the harmful effects of the roentgen ray is as important a mission as saving him from cancer. Today, such sentiments must be regarded as anachronisms, remnants of an old period when the specialty of radiotherapy in the United States had grossly inadequate numbers of trained specialists, used primitive equipment, and lacked experience with curable patients.

Years earlier, surgeons had learned to perform radical lymph node dissections with safety, and with an altered skin contour as the only sequella, Slaughter was justly proud of this accomplishment, and he contrasted it with the bad results he saw