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HISTORY OF CANCER QUACKERY MORRIS FISHBEIN, M.D.* When I was a young man in Indianapolis, Indiana, I lived nearapark on the borders ofwhich was a house occupied at that time, about 1906, by a cancer quackeryheadedbyLeonP. Leach. Leachwasa member ofacancer quack iâmily which included his fàther-in-law, William O. Bye, and his two brothers-in-law, who had operated similar establishments in Kansas City. Their quackery included essentially the use of an arsenic paste designed to burn offsuperficial cancers and a number ofworthless internal remedies. Usually on a pleasant day the benches in the park were filled with people whose faces andjaws were covered with bloody bandages. Most ofthese people had come from great distances for treatment. When I came to the offices ofthe American Medical Association in 1913 I found the Bureau ofInvestigation—then called the Propaganda Department —under the direction of Dr. Arthur J. Cramp. He had been accumulating for some time the records ofvarious charlatans in the field of cancer; later much of this collection was published in a pamphlet called "Cancer Cures and Treatment." The advertisements ofthe cancer charlatans advised people to avoid X-ray, radium, and surgical operations and instead to try the methods ofthe charlatan who was doing the advertising. Some ofthem were still advertising in country newspapers as late as 1933. Until the establishment of the Federal Trade Commission, at the same time as the new food and drug laws were passed in 1937, means did not exist for preventing the circulation of such advertising. Early upon the scene were such other advertisers as the Nichols Sanatorium. In 1932 a man named Tilton came to Chicago to exploit his special type ofcancer quackery. So many were his followers, especially one wealthy supporter, that Northwestern University eventually was compelled to make a careful study ofthe Tilton quackery. * 5454 South Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60615. This paper was an address before the International College ofSurgeons, Hall ofFame, in Chicago, April 21, 1964. I39 During the years, I was concerned with other cancer quackery and exploitations, among them the Glover cancer cure, the Hendry-Connell cancer cure, the William Koch, Norman Baker, and Hoxsey cures, and the Coffee-Humber method. Much time and money were expended by the federal government, the American Medical Association, and other groups to learn the facts and to expose these quackeries. Once I was requested by the "March of Time" to appear on their program of motion pictures and to tell the story of Norman Baker. I opened with the following line: "Ofall the ghouls who feed on the bodies ofthe dead and the dying, the cancer quacks are most vicious and most heartless. Most vicious ofall is Norman Baker." Norman Baker sued the "March ofTime" in forty-eight states (which was all there were at that time) but eventually dropped the cases without ever going to trial. At the National Congress on Medical Quackery held in Washington, D.C., in October, 1961, Dr. L. Henry Garland ofSan Francisco discussed unorthodox cancer therapy. He noted that quackery really began in the ancient days when all sorts ofherbs, roots, and other concoctions, sacrifices ofanimals, and the wearing of amulets were the approach to control of cancer. In a book called Domestic Medicine, the 22nd edition, published in 1826 in London, by an author whom I have not been able to locate, appears the statement that cancer is seldom cured except by the knife and even that does not always succeed: Yet diere are plenty ofpeople in London who cure cancers and no one, who has a sufficient share offaith, can be at a loss for a cancer-doctor. One may see even die fronts of houses inscribed with the words, "Cancers cured here," in large characters. I lately had a patient, who once fancied that her breast was a little cancerous and, under that impression was kept for two years in die hands ofa female cancer-curer, though die lady in reality had not die least symptom ofcancer about her. But credulity is a disease ofthe mind still more incurable than cancer. I bad occasion, a few years ago, to make several visits at the house of one...