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250 Years of Advances Against Cancer - 1900s

1901
Francis Henry Williams describes the use of x-rays to cure a patient with epidermoid carcinoma (squamous cell skin cancer) of the lip. His report provides the first well-documented example of the use of radiation therapy to cure cancer.
1902
Theodor Boveri proposes that cancerous tumors arise from single cells that have experienced chromosome damage, suggesting that chromosome alterations cause the cells to divide uncontrollably.
1903
S.W. Goldberg and Efim London describe the use of radium to treat two patients with basal cell carcinoma of the skin. The disease was eradicated in both patients.
1904
Hugh Young and William Halsted perform the first radical perineal prostatectomy to treat prostate cancer. In this surgical procedure, which is still used today, the prostate gland is removed through an incision in the area between the scrotum and the anus.
1907
The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is established.
1909
Paul Ehrlich proposes that the immune system usually suppresses tumor formation, a concept that becomes known as the "immune surveillance" hypothesis. This proposal would prompt research, which continues today, to harness the power of the immune system to fight cancer.
  • Updated: February 10, 2014