The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

EMPORER OF MALADIES

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55. Whowas Sidney Farber?

56. Why is there very little evidence of the existence of cancer during ancient time periods (2000 BC – 400 AD)?

57. Elaborate on the quote- “Radical surgery thus drew the blinds of circular logic around itself for nearly a century.”

58. Elaborate on the quote- “Radiation [would] eventually burn into Marie Curie’s bonemarrow, leaving her permanently anemic.”

Who was Sidney Farber?

Dr. Sidney Farber is a world-renowned pediatric pathologist that is credited with the title of being the “father of chemotherapy.” This title stems from his ground breaking work in the field of pediatric oncology in the 1940s. At that time, childhood leukemia had very little to offer in the way of treatment; rather a supportive approach was taken using blood transfusions and antibiotics to treat infections. A child diagnosed with leukemia was given a prognosis of weeks or months without hope of cure.

Dr. Farber refused to accept incurability of cancer and devoted research to finding an intervention to orchestrate remission. In a study published in 1948, he demonstrated a number of folic acid antagonists had the ability to block and even stop the proliferation (division & multiplication) of cancer cells. A specific antagonist (4-aminopteroyl-
glutamic acid) could produce remission in children with undifferentiated leukemia. In this case the cases came on suddenly (acute) and predominate cells were so immature they could not be classified. More about Dr. Farber can be read in the attached pdf, containing a tribute to Dr. Farber published in the British Journal of Haematology (2006).

Why is there very little evidence of the existence of cancer during ancient time periods (2000 BC – 400 AD)?

There is a …

Mukherjee has presented a collection of materials documenting the history of cancer in the book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. This document looks at some of the specific cases elaborated on and reviews the findings.