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August 13, 1973

Cancer and Immune Mechanisms

JAMA. 1973;225(7):748-749. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220340052023

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To the Editor.—  A recent issue of The Journal contained an editorial entitled "Cancer and Immune Mechanisms" (224:1286, 1973). The articles cited as reference do not, we believe, entirely support the theory of cancer and immune mechanisms. General immunosuppression, whether by chemotherapy, radiation, or other means, is known to increase the General incidence of malignant disease in the body. However, when the author cites the effect of local radiation as a primary disturbance of the immune mechanism, such as in the relationship of cancer of the thyroid to adjacent radiation for tonsilar disease, it does not imply the general suppression of immunity or even possibly the destruction of the immune T-cell lymphocyte mechanisms by damaging the thymus. It does imply that alteration in the cell line of the thyroid gland in the adolescent or developing prepubertal stage has produced a mutated line of cells to which the immune system may