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January 28, 1974

Cancer Immunotherapy

JAMA. 1974;227(4):435. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230170051015

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Over time, the pages of JAMA have allotted substantial space to the matter of immunotherapy of neoplastic diseases, an "in thing," somewhat nebulous still, but promising and deserving further research.

Before the advent of antibacterial agents, it used to be said that the mortality of bacterial endocarditis was 99%. Yet, who witnessed the one patient in 100 who recovered spontaneously from that disease? So, too, there was vague talk of an occasional case of cancer that underwent spontaneous remission. In retrospect, if such reports were true, how could they be explained except by an extraordinary immune body defense against diseases otherwise uniformly fatal?

Bacterial endocarditis has faded from view as a subject of immune mechanisms because effective therapy has solved the problem except in a scattering of cases. Not so, the malignant neoplastic diseases, which now are on center stage. Earlier efforts to control the latter diseases centered on attempts