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August 25, 1951


Author Affiliations

Worcester, Mass.; Newark, N. J.

From Worcester State Hospital (Dr. Kline, Director of Research), and the Veterans Administration Regional Office, Newark (Dr. Sobin).

JAMA. 1951;146(17):1547-1551. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.03670170001001

Improved methods of cancer detection and public education on the subject mean that physicians are seeing and treating many more malignant lesions than ever before. More widespread lay knowledge about cancer has almost resulted in a situation in which "every man is his own diagnostician." Formerly, cancer was almost unmentionable between patient and physician, and most persons did not wish to know nor expect to be told of such diagnoses. The pendulum has swung far in the opposite direction, and, along with its benefits, the educational campaign has resulted in an almost national cancerphobia. Our civilization breeds guilt feelings of one form or another in almost all of us; since guilt tends to seek out a "punishment" the cancer-education campaign has provided potential punishment for many persons.

In any case, the attitudes of cancer patients have altered significantly in the past 10 years, and not the least of the problems