Good Health and Bad Medicine:
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( Originally Published 1940 )
ALTHOUGH the causes of cancer are not yet known, many types can be prevented and others cured completely, provided they are diagnosed in time. Preventive measures can be applied in certain industries and occupations, such as aniline dye works, radium and watch-dial manufacturing, and pitchblende mining, where the worker is constantly ex-posed to irritants.
When cancer is detected early it can almost invariably be cured. However, there are only three really effective methods of treatment of cancer—surgery, radium and X-ray. It is too soon to evaluate a recently described method of treatment by "freezing" or "hibernation."
Bernarr MacFadden's raw milk and fruit diet or any other diet fad has never cured or even relieved a single case of true cancer, notwithstanding the many testimonials that may be quoted. Reliance on diet fads has rather served to delay the administration of really effective treatment.
Not only are dietary schemes futile and dangerous, but no medicines taken by mouth or injected will check or cure cancer. The remedies of William Koch, Coffey and Humber, and Cornell and many other self-appointed saviors have proved to be worthless. Some, such as the Ensol and Rex Serum products, have caused many deaths because of contamination of the serum by germs. Other remedies, such as Collodaurum, consist of metallic colloidal solutions which have been known to cause destruction of the blood tissue, severe injury of the liver and lung, and eventually death.
Salves and lotions for the treatment of cancer, once extensively advertised in the pulp magazines or by direct mail, contain caustic drugs which can destroy only some of the superficial part of the cancer. These caustics also destroy surrounding healthy tissue and blood vessels, often causing infections and permanent disfigurement. They never destroy the main part of the cancer.
The most that any medicine can do is to control the pain caused by the cancer. Such medicines as are useful for that purpose are well known, relatively inexpensive, and can be administered by the patient or by a member of the family according to a physician's instructions.
Since the causes of cancer are still obscure and since the best results come with early treatment, the public should know when and where to go for proper treatment.
If a woman notices a lump in the breast, she should seek medical attention at once. It probably isn't cancer; but if it is, the earlier a diagnosis is made the better are the chances for successful treatment. This is also true for other symptoms, such as vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods or past the menopause, vague and persistent stomach and intestinal complaints, especially in people past forty-five; rectal bleeding and constipation appearing in people of middle age who have never had trouble with rectum or bowel previously; enlarged glands or lumps in various parts of the body; in fact, all divergences from the normal in appearance or function. The majority of the divergences will be non-cancerous, or benign, but the only way to find out is by careful medical examination.
The larger tumor clinics or large general hospitals offer the best facilities for proper diagnosis and treatment, since they possess both the staff and equipment (surgical, radium and X-ray) for this purpose. The family doctor can usually direct the patient to a cancer expert or a cancer clinic if necessary. If a person cannot afford the services of a private practitioner, he should attempt to enter a clinic of one of the large hospitals in the city or county in which he lives.