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November 1976

Cancer Perspectives—1876 to 1976: Benefits and Hazards

Author Affiliations

From the Skin and Cancer Hospital, Temple University Health Sciences Center, Philadelphia.

Arch Dermatol. 1976;112(ANIVERSARY):1666-1667. doi:10.1001/archderm.1976.01630360034009

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A review of man's encounters with cancer during the past 100 years readily reveals that substantial advances have been made in understanding and controlling this disease. On the other hand, certain aspects of progress during those years have other implications, inherently obvious but perhaps not generally appreciated; namely that progress, in areas both distant and close to medicine, often introduces new hazards difficult to predict or anticipate. The lessons of the latter are far-reaching, for they place into focus questions of (1) whether increasing rates of progress can be achieved in the future without proportionate increases in attendant rates of risk, and (2) what means can or should be used to minimize such risks and at what cost.

The very nature of cancer, perceived today as a consequence of altered cellular DNA, accounts for unique problems in regard to benefits vs risks, since most methods of cancer treatment also alter

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