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May 4, 1984

Nitrogen Mustard Therapy

Author Affiliations

Department of Hematology, University of Texas System Cancer Center, M. D. Anderson Hosptial and Tumor Institute, Houston.

JAMA. 1984;251(17):2262-2263. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340410070037

The beginning of the era of cytotoxic chemotherapy was documented in this signal publication. The title is a concise yet accurate description of the contents of the publication. The trivial name assigned to this chemical — nitrogen mustard—persists today, and the association of the chemical with the word therapy was virtually clairvoyant.

The authors report a clinical investigation of only 67 patients. Yet they were able to describe the essential activity of this chemical in the effective palliation of a systemic malignant condition that was resistant to all known methods of treatment.

The Selection of Chemicals for Clinical Trials  The authors point out in this article that the initiation of the first clinical test of chemotherapy early in December 1942 was preceded by extensive investigation of the nature of the interaction of the chemical with other biologic tissues in vitro. These studies included preclinical toxicity study in whole animals