How was cancer treated in the 19th century?

How was cancer treated in the 19th century?

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answers (2)

Answer 1
January, 2021

In the 19th century, the level of medicine was extremely far from modern. At this time, the first microscope had just appeared and the first anesthesia was tested. Until that time, all patients underwent surgery, as they say, “live.”

During that period, no ideas about the causes of cancer origin and the characteristics of its development were formed. But the main points were already known - cancerous tumors grow invasively, infiltrating and destroying the surrounding tissues, and metastases over time. The prognosis was determined by the growth rate of the neoplasm.

Surgical removal of the tumor was the main method of treating malignant diseases. The operation involved excision of the neoplasm within healthy tissues. At the same time, it was believed that the more tissues were excised, the less likely the disease would return. By the way, such ideas about treatment existed until the end of the twentieth century. And it took quite a lot of clinical studies to revise the volume of resection.

Given the extremely low level of surgical care, removal was mainly used for cancers of superficial localization, for example, tumors of the breast, extremities, skin, etc. were removed. At the same time, many surgeons did not want to take on such treatment, due to its low efficiency and danger to the patient. This state of affairs required the development of rules - indications and contraindications for operations. Basically, the treatment was carried out for a palliative purpose and for some time relieved the patient's condition. But there were cases of successful healing, for example, when a slowly growing breast tumor was removed (the entire breast was removed).

An alternative to surgical treatment of superficial tumors was cauterization of the neoplasm with chemical agents. Zinc chloride was most often used, which led to denaturation of the tumor protein. True, this treatment was very

painful.

In parallel with the local effect on the tumor, it was assumed a systemic effect on the body for general strengthening. In particular, it was noticed that with cancer, anemia and exhaustion are often noted, therefore, such patients were offered to use fish oil and mineral waters. In general, cancer at that time remained a poorly studied area, so the results of treatment were most often disappointing.

Answer 2
January, 2021

Doctors of the 19th century were quite well versed in the treatment and diagnosis of cancer, however, only in its external forms. The main treatment was performed by surgeons, and the treatment consisted of complete (as far as possible) removal of the tumor. True, even then, many doctors noted a frequent relapse of the disease and an unfavorable prognosis: surgeons recognized that the disease could not be cured at the current level of development of medicine. Here is, for example, a detailed analysis of one of the articles by an English surgeon of the 19th century. For example, he urged all patients to perform operations whenever possible, finding these operations to make life easier for the patient.

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