Baltimore Evening Sun (12 July 1913): 6.


Can it be that Dr. Goldsborough has picked Detective William L. F. Miller for Marshal of Police, as the Sunpaper, Evening Sunpaper and estimable Hot Towel announce? Bosh! The natural, the inevitable, candidate of that great moral statesman must be the Hon. Franklin E. Cox. Give us Cox, by all means! Lead Farnan to the ax! He is out of sympathy with the new morality.

The Hon. William H. Anderson, in final defense of his confidential circular to the clergy, in the current American Issue:

It is evident that the superintendent has been guarded, guided and protected to such a degree as to make those who are fighting the cause by trying to break down its superintendent realize that they are fighting, not a man, but a higher and overruling power.

In brief, a plain and forthright claim to Divine agency. The superintendent of the Anti- Saloon League is no longer a mere man, but a sort of bruammagem messiah. It will be interesting to hear this claim defended by the great theologians of his entourage.

The American Society for the Control of Cancer, in which several Baltimore surgeons are conspicuous, has a long and perhaps exciting campaign ahead of it, for it will find the public full of disheartening ignorance and the quacks extremely game, but if its members hold together and proceed with a proper mingling of enterprise and caution they will probably live to see results. Such things always move slowly--it took nearly 20 years to get the tuberculosis campaign under way--but once any definite progress is made, its fruits are permanent.

The fact that the American people are still swindled by a vast horde of cancer quarks is due less to their inherent credulity than to the traditional secretiveness of medical men. In the absence of good teaching they listen to bad teaching. The quack is always positive and eloquent. He never conditions his promises with ifs and buts; he is never in any doubt as to what he can do. In the past the surgeons have offered nothing but possibilities against his certainties. They have groped, in fact, in the dark and have honestly admitted that groping. But now, at last, a measure of assurance begins to appear in them. Improvements in their art have given them definite and striking successes. All that is needed, to wean the public away from superstitions and quackery, is to make those successes known--to present the figures and proofs.

Fortunately enough, this progress in surgery has been simultaneous with a breaking down of the old and evil reticence of the medical profession. Such reticence, of course, had its uses in the days of blind floundering; it was a necessary mask to ignorance and hocus-pocus. But today the scientific physician has very little to conceal. He has made so much progress in a score of fields that he can afford to make a frank admission of his failures in other fields. The result must inevitably be a growth of confidence between physician and patient. The public begins to trust the educator doctor, and the doctor begins to trust the public. And on both sides that confidence is well grounded.

The last stand of the quacks–whether they be patent medicine sellers, mental healers, bone-setters or what not–is against surgery. They still play upon the average man’s reluctance to yield up his blood. They scare the credulous with fabulous tales of butchery. But that old fear, it must be plain, is fast dying out, even in the United States. Twenty years ago, or even 10 years ago, it took a lot of rhetoric to convince the average appendicitis patient that laparotomy was not necessarily fatal. He went to it hospital, if he went at all, with a sense of doom hanging over him. But today he goes without any question, and his new courage has its reward. The death rate in appendicitis, once very high, is now almost negligible.

In exactly the same way, the death rate in cancer might be reduced, if only the public could be induced to submit to radical surgery at the start, and not wait for something to happen. The something that happens is always the same thing: it is certain and painful death. But taken in time, the great majority of cancers may be safely and surely eliminated. The operation is neither painful nor dangerous, and ordinarily it leaves no seriously disfigurement or crippling. But its success depends wholly upon its promptness. Every minute’s delay, for consideration and the bolstering up of courage, decreases the chances of recovery. In the first stages of some of the commonest cancers, the percentage of recoveries is nearly 100; in the later stages it drops to next to nothing.

The Society for the Control of Cancer is now engaged in preparing the hospital records of the last decade or so for publication. When they are given to the public they will show, in very graphic and striking form, the dangers of delay, and by the same token they will show the marvelous efficiency of prompt and intelligent surgery. Here at the Johns Hopkins and at our other hospitals there have been thousands of operations for cancer during the last 10 years. The lesson they teach is always the same. The persons who submitted to the knife at the first sign of malignant tumor are alive and in good health today; nine-tenths of those who tried salves and other such quackeries first are dead.

The chief danger lies, of course, in a belated diagnosis, and that danger is one which the layman can do more to avoid than the physician. Too many persons put off consulting a doctor until the cancerous ulcer, perhaps harmless at the start, has got beyond bounds. And too many of them, after they have gone to him at last, combat his recommendation of an immediate operation. The result is that the surgeons get their patients too late. They do their best with the means available, and they bear the odium of the high death rate--but that doesn’t help the victims. Given a fair chance, they would do in all cases what they now do so magnificently in a few cases.

As for the allegation, sure to be made by the rogues and vagabonds of medicine, that the surgeons undertake this campaign for their own profit, it is scarcely worth serious answer. If you have cancer, dear heart, you may be sure that they will get you soon or late. After you have been tortured by caustics for a dreadful space, you will land upon the operating table at last, and the fee you pay will not be the less because the labor you demand is the more. No; the surgeons will not be in pocket by this campaign. All they will get out of it will be the satisfaction of doing better work, and of saving more human lives.