[Skip to Navigation]
August 1950


Arch Surg. 1950;61(2):312-318. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1950.01250020316013

THE RADICAL operation for cancer of the breast dates from the epoch-making paper of W. S. Halsted1 of Nov. 2, 1894. The principle enunciated at that time not only established the essential factors necessary for the eradication of cancer of the breast but paved the way for the more radical operations for cancer in other parts of the body, such as the lip, penis, tongue and uterus. Halsted's work followed the researches of a large number of investigators in surgery of the breast.

Up to the year 1860 cancer was generally accepted as a constitutional disease and it was thought that little could be gained from surgical intervention. That there were a few dissenters to this opinion is found in the writings of Sir Ashley Cooper and of Velpeau. Cooper,2 in discussing the anatomy of the mamma, described scirrhous cancer as having roots running from the primary tumor