The Time to Treat Incurable Cancer

Edward F. Skinner, MD
JAMA. 1967;202(9):916. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130220104033.
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To the Editor:—  Should specific therapy for incurable cancer be started at the time of diagnosis or postponed until troublesome symptoms occur?In certain patients with incurable cancer, specific chemotherapy or radiation could perhaps be withheld until such time as troublesome symptoms arise.This philosophy somewhat parallels recent thinking in treating patients with chronic leukemia.It is wise to see these patients at regular intervals for examination, reassurance, and symptomatic therapy.

Report of a Case:—  A 31-year-old man was first seen by us in 1951 with a mixed tumor of the left testicle. This was removed surgically and radiation therapy followed. This orchiectomy was performed July 5, 1951, and by September a chest roentgenogram showed a nodule just lateral to the heart border in the region of the lower lobe of the left lung and soon a second nodule appeared there.On January 18, 1952, a left lower lobectomy was


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