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September 14, 1901


Author Affiliations

Professor of Surgery, Medical Department, University of Buffalo. BUFFALO, N. Y.

JAMA. 1901;XXXVII(11):671-674. doi:10.1001/jama.1901.62470370001001

Like a huge and frowning sphinx at the very gateway or entrance to the field of surgical pathology has stood for centuries the great problem of the nature of cancer. This has, at least until recently, remained the inscrutable mystery of ages, although, like the great sphinx at Gheizeh, it has been always a target for shafts of all kinds. Almost every theory which the ingenuity of the human race could conceive has been advanced to account for the existence of cancer, while each theory has been ardently supported until proven unsatisfactory, or often much longer. To-day, while we desire always to pay due deference to the scholars and thinkers of times past, the only hypotheses which are even worth mentioning in this connection can be characterized as the dietetic, the embryologic, the irritation, and the parasitic theories. The dietetic theory is of importance only in case we may succeed