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October 14, 1974

Curing the Incurable

Author Affiliations

Princeton, NJ

JAMA. 1974;230(2):208. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240020016005

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To the Editor.—  Patients and lay authors sometimes use the word "cure," but the medically trained learn to be more circumspect. The disease is "arrested" or the "effect of the disease process is stabilized." Workers treating patients with nervous and mental disorders soon learn to assess the "social rehabilitation" of their patients. Similarly, workers in cancer cite "five-" and "ten-year cures" as the ultimate goal in therapy of these difficult-to-treat disorders. I learned as a medical student to avoid "cure" as well as "incurable" since I walked Ellis Avenue in Chicago each day on my way to medical school past a building where engraved in stone over the doorway was "Chicago Home for Incurables." This was in 1938. I hope the building with its negative message has become outmoded and demolished by now.Reimann and McCloskey (228:1662, 1974) scold over the expenditure of $20,000 in medical expenses to find the