June 6, 1966

Palliation by Surgery

JAMA. 1966;196(10):852. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100230096026

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Although surgeons hope that excisional treatment of cancer of the lung will be curative in many instances, far too frequently it proves to be only palliative. At one time, I believed that the curability rate of surgical extirpation of cancer of the lung would be higher if the diagnosis were made earlier. Further experience has demonstrated, however, that it is extremely difficult to make an early diagnosis, probably because carcinoma of the lung is early angio-invasive in character.

Hurst Hatch, MD, who is in charge of our Pulmonary Function Laboratory, conceived the idea that routine cytological study of peripheral arterial blood of patients with carcinoma of the lung should yield a higher percentage of positive neoplastic cells than examination of the systemic venous blood. Of all patients who had pulmonary function studies in our laboratory during a period of more than three years, none without cancer of the lung had

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