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April 1966

Mammary Carcinoma Metastases: Response to Bilateral Adrenalectomy and Oophorectomy

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, University of Chicago.

Arch Surg. 1966;92(4):530-536. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1966.01320220086014

BEATSON, in 1896, observed regression of cancer of the breast in two patients following bilateral oophorectomy.1 He wrote that cancer of the mammary gland was caused by ovarian irritation. His discovery provoked neither challenge nor scientific curiosity. His postulate was soon forgotten, even after an encouraging clinical trial by Lett in 1905.5 The existence of a relationship between hormones and cancer of the prostate gland was experimentally established by Huggins in 1941.3 The association of similar hormonal dependency with mammary carcinoma was suggested by the early observation of Beatson. On the basis of his own experimental observations, Huggins was able to perform the first bilateral adrenalectomy for far advanced carcinoma of the breast on May 7, 1951.4 This was possible because cortisone was available as a replacement therapy for totally adrenalectomized patients. Since 1951, over 600 patients with mammary carcinoma metastases have had bilateral adrenalectomy and

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