The Treatment of Cancer


    WITH reference to the above letter, questions of priority are not involved in the article referred to. It may be that Dr. Shaw-Mackenzie's advocacy of the trypsin treatment of cancer was based on a misconception, but that he did independently evolve it seems clear to us, and this is all that was suggested in the article. His line of treatment is indicated in a letter to the British Medical Journal, May 27, 1905, p. 1183, and again in the same journal, January 27, 1906, p. 240; in the latter not only trypsin, but pancreatin and secretin are suggested. As regards the term “trypsin treatment,” Dr. Beard, in an article in the British Medical Journal (January 20, 1906, p. 140), uses the phrases, “the length of time and number of injections of trypsin necessary to destroy the tumour,” “trypsin is the substance which will destroy the cancer cell (Beard and Shaw-Mackenzie),” &c., and he moreover states, “the preparation of trypsin employed (Fairchild Bros. and Foster's). was that originally dispensed to Dr. Shaw-Mackenzie's prescription by Mr. F. W. Gamble,” thus acknowledging Dr. Shaw-Mackenzie's work, and actually making use of the latter's preparation of trypsin! Accepting the details of the case of cancer of the tongue cured by pancreatic extract as correct, it is a remarkable one, but not unique. The writer knows a case of mammary cancer, diagnosed as such 41/2;years ago by four doctors, and on which a London surgeon refused to operate, which after treatment with X-rays has atrophied, and the patient is well and in good health today, surely as remarkable a case! Lastly, with regard to the alleged cures of cancer obtained by Prof. Morton in America (to which reference was made in the article), these are summarised in the British Medical Journal, December 22, 1906, p. 1835. About thirty cases were treated, and the results claimed are cure in two cases, remarkable atrophy of the tumour in one, and arrest of disease in many. In one case the “cure” has lasted four months, in the other one month! It is absurd yet to speak of such cases as “cured” careful surgeons allow a three years' limit! To claim that “the cure” for cancer has been found has at present nothing to substantiate it, and in our opinion Dr. Shaw-Mackenzie's position is far more scientific than Dr. Beard's. We believe that the pancreatic enzymes must be injected into the neighbourhood of the growth or used locally; how, then, could the secondary growths in internal organs, &c., be attacked? Until this can be done, no “cure” for cancer will have been obtained.

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    The Treatment of Cancer. Nature 75, 247 (1907) doi:10.1038/075247b0

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