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September 1963

A Proposed Glossary of Cancer

Arch Surg. 1963;87(3):534-537. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1963.01310150170038

Pliny the Elder (23-79 ad) is reported to have found the following epitaph on a Roman tombstone: "He died by reason of the confusion of the doctors." While such an epitaph might never be inscribed and seldom justified today, it can hardly be denied that some semantic confusion by the doctors is nevertheless still with us in medical parlance and writing.

The human factors in the art of healing are so many and varied as to preclude medicine from ever becoming an exact science to the same degree as mathematics, chemistry, or physics. There is no good reason, however, why medical nomenclature and terminology should not be so exact that the reader or the listener might know literally what is meant, and what is intended to be included as well as what is to be excluded. Medical editors might well insist that authors say precisely what they mean in terms

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