TBT: Chemotherapy Invented By Gynecological Research

Patients state the worst words they ever hear when they are told about a cancer is that ‘it is inoperable.’ And it is true that prior to 1950, and the first discovery of treatment of a solid tumor by medical means alone; up until then only operations could remove a bulk solid cancer. It was the field of gynecologic cancer treatment that revolutionized this field. In 1949 Dr. Sidney Farber who was a practicing physician as well as a pathologist was thinking about the drug methotrexate that would be needed to fuel the rapidly growing cells in leukemia. He rationalized that this drug would block the action of the B vitamin folate. Dr. Roy hertz and Min C Li began work in a variety of cancerous tissues. Then realizing that in pregnancy, the placenta needed a lot of folate for rapid growth, they theorized that this medication methotrexate could shrink the placental tumor choriocarcinoma with this medicine. In the 1950s choriocarcinoma was virtually universally fatal. By 1962 the cure rate was reported to be 80% by using the new medical treatment.. For their teamwork Drs Hertz and Li were awarded a Lasker award, for they truly broke ground with their work showing for the first time how a solid tumor could respond to chemotherapy and shrink with medical treatment alone.


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