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August 9, 1952


JAMA. 1952;149(15):1400-1402. doi:10.1001/jama.1952.02930320040011

The treatment of cancer, once limited to the use of surgery, x-rays, and radium, has been expanded considerably in recent years. New anticancer drugs have been developed, and hormones and radioactive isotopes have been applied to the therapy of malignant disease. These new agents represent valuable additions to the therapeutic program, but the optimistic publicity that has accompanied their use has tended to obscure several facts. In the first place, most of these substances have a relatively narrow range of therapeutic activity. The anticancer drugs, for example, are effective almost exclusively against the lymphomas, the sex steroids act only on a few types of carcinoma, and other substances are similarly limited in their action. Moreover, while these agents may prolong life and make it more comfortable, they are for the most part palliative rather than curative. Permanent cures are still achieved largely with surgery and/or external irradiation administered to patients