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ARTICLE |

THE MEANING OF CANCER RESEARCH

R. R. SPENCER, M.D.
JAMA. 1948;137(16):1361-1364. doi:10.1001/jama.1948.02890500009003.
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While the human body is a beautifully organized, well governed society of cells, probably no living species is a victim of more disorders and maladjustments than man. From study of the behavior of the various disorders much has been learned about the orderly, normal behavior of living units, i. e., cells, organs and systems. So far as communicable diseases are concerned, it is now axiomatic that they are manifestations of cellular reactions to external parasitic organisms (bacteria, protozoa or viruses). The reactions show a process of adaptation between two living variables, the mammalian cell host and the invasive parasitic agent. This process is essentially a struggle for survival, and it may end in the death of the host, the death of the parasite, the death of both or a compromise through which host and parasite manage to live together satisfactorily. Basically, the cancer process is no exception. It, too, is

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