THE RELATION OF CANCER TO OTHER DISEASES.
We shall never be able to acquire a rational view of cancer until we are able to regard it from the organismic point of view as well as from the tumour point of view. Anybody can diagnose an apple-tree when he sees apples growing on it, but the skilled botanist can distinguish between an apple-tree, a pear-tree, and a plum-tree, even when there are no leaves on them. In the same way, the skilled physician should be able to diagnose the cancer organism before any lump has appeared; but that will only be possible when our pathologists approach the subject from the organismic standpoint. Cancer Research Associations may succeed in bringing to light many interesting facts of microbiology, and heap up piles of statistics; but for any real knowledge of the essence of the trouble or the means of dealing with it, we must look elsewhere.
I propose in this chapter to cite a few facts which may suggest to other observers the lines on which fruitful investigation may be made.
Some years ago I was sent for to Holland, to see a lady who had previously been under the care of Dr. Burnett.
She had originally gone to him to escape a sentence of immediate operation pronounced by a leading specialist at home. Dr. Burnett has himself told the story of the case (change of Life in Women), and here it is-
“As I have before pointed out,” says Dr. Burnett, “the various tumours of the breast commonly have their seat of origin in the womb or ovaries; and holding this view, I have succeeded from time to time in curing very many such tumours in women at all periods of life, and notably at the change of life.
Thus, recently the Baroness X. telegraphed to me from the Hague that her doctor there had diagnosed Interstitial Mastitis of her right breast, and urged an immediate operation. I wired back forbidding the operation, saying that medicines would cure it. Her ladyship appeared in my consulting-room three days thereafter, and I found the diagnosis correct: the right breast being pretty uniformly infiltrated and hard. Under Scirrhinum C. the breast became quite normal within two months; but then it became manifest that the real origin of the trouble still persisted, and lay in the pelvic organs, and this pelvic root trouble I am now treating. I can afford to forgive certain insolent remarks of a very prominent medical brother at the Hague: he knows no better, and what he does not know of interstitial mastitis is not knowledge.
What on earth is the use of ablating a breast for a swelling that has its root-life in the female pelvic organs?”
When I saw the patient some years later Was able to ascertain that the breast and the pelvic region were absolutely healthy. But a new condition had developed- the very troublesome condition known as Mucous Colitis.
I mention this case because it seems to me that mucous colitis is often an expression of a cancer tendency. A year or two back, Dr Spiers Alexander mentioned a case in a paper on Mucous colitis read by him
before the British Homoeopathic Society, in which a tumour appeared in the right breast when the mucous colitis subsided, and decreased in size when the colitis reappeared. In this case there was an alternation of symptoms between the breast and the large intestines. I have at present under treatment a similar case, in which there is scirrhus of the right breast associated with mucous colitis. In this case the cancer nosodes have had the greatest effect in relieving the bowel symptoms.
I have again and again noticed a very close alliance between the tubercular and cancerous diathesis. It is, of course, common to find in families with a strong tubercular taint that whilst some develop tubercle others develop cancer.
In the cases I have cited there was as often a tubercular history as there was a cancerous one.
But gout is a factor of no less importance than either of the other two. A lady came to Dr. Burnett one day with a tumour in the breast. “What is it, doctor?” she asked. “It is a gouty. He cured the patient, but he said afterwards, “If I had given it its other name, I should never have had a chance of curing the lady-she would never have survived the diagnosis.”
In an exceedingly gouty family with which I am acquainted, four members died over seventy years of age-one sister of cancer of the breast; one sister of gout ending in ulceration of the mouth-she had been badly poisoned with an arsenical paper many years before; one sister or decay of nature-she had become a victim of the chlorodyne habit; the fourth, a brother, died of chronic gouty bronchitis. He had for many years a large patch of gouty eczema of the cuirass like kind on the lower part of the back In a case of open cancer of the breast which I am now attending with Dr Le Hunte cooper, a very threatening state of affairs at one time supervened. All the surrounding tissues became swollen and hard and inflamed. It appeared as if rapid infiltration had taken place and the disease was about to make great advance. But under treatment the swelling as rapidly subsided, and in its place appeared an obvious attack of gout in the great tow. I am not prepared to say that the feared extension would not have taken place if the gouty attack had not been diverted.
I have already pointed out ( in the preface of this work) that the cancer state not infrequently takes the form of rheumatism, and as Dr. Robert cooper mentioned, blood poisoning of various kinds can give rise to it. Then, as is well known, numerous poisons have been known to set up cancer, especially arsenic and its compounds.; It is for this reason that arsenical preparations have been used successfully, especially by homoeopathists in the cure of cancer. Finally, there is trauma, in its numerous shapes of injuries or irritations, and, as we have had in recent examples, the cancer caused by X-rays.
I merely throw out these few suggestions to show that if ever we are to understand cancer, we must are to understand cancer, we must take wide views and regard it in all its aspects. We certainly shall not understand it by inoculating millions of generations of mice.