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Notable Notes
January 2017

John Hunter—Transcending Surgical Boundaries

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida
JAMA Dermatol. 2017;153(1):38. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.0145

In 1787, John Hunter was the first surgeon to report removing a melanoma tumor in a patient. Initially, Hunter described the tumor as a “cancerous fungous excrescence.” In 1968, the preserved tumor was officially diagnosed as metastatic melanoma. To this day, the tumor is displayed in the Hunterian Museum at Lincoln Inn Fields in London, England.1

Born on February 13, 1728, and the youngest of 10 children, Hunter did not always exemplify signs of intellectual potential, and, at just 13 years old, he dropped out of grammar school. Even at a young age, Hunter was surprisingly adept at handling animals. Eventually, this skill, along with his budding curiosity about nature, would be cultivated into a career integrating anatomy, physiology, and pathology in humans and animals.2

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