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December 17, 1887

CANCER OF THE RECTUM.Read before the Louisville Medical Society,

JAMA. 1887;IX(25):774-777. doi:10.1001/jama.1887.02400240006001c

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That was a quaint description of cancer given by Lorenz Heister, in 1731, in which he says: "When a scirrhus is not reabsorbed, cannot be arrested, or is not removed by time, it either, spontaneously or from maltreatment, becomes malignant, that is, painful and inflamed, and then we begin to call it cancer." We are amused at this homely definition by the old master, but when we stop long enough to think, we can honestly ask ourselves, "How much beyond this have we advanced in the study of this much dreaded disease?" Even with our much vaunted knowledge of anatomy, histology and pathology, the most learned of us call a halt before pronouncing upon the character of tumors; drawing the line, as it were, between benign and malignant growths. The daily press heralds one day that the Crown Prince has a warty excrescence in his throat; the next cablegram is

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