In the surgical treatment of cancer, it would seem that the limit has been reached in the extent of the body that can be dispensed with, with the continued maintenance of life. At times there has seemed to be more or less competition among surgeons as to how much of the human body could be removed surgically and leave a remnant compatible with living. The surgeon has to weigh these procedures carefully in the case of the individual patient. He must decide as to the prospect of palliative relief or the more remote possibility of cure. He should estimate the probable degree of relief in relation to the resultant disability; the temperamental make-up of the individuals concerned; their social and business obligations; and the risk of operative mortality. All these factors should enter into consideration when the surgeon is making his decision. He must take care that in deciding not to accept the risk of a major operative procedure he is not acting unjustly in deciding that the patient’s cancer is too far advanced and the risk too great. He must not be influenced by his own fear of criticism from colleagues or the lay public. The surgeon faced with the challenge of an advanced cancer must be able to put himself in his patient’s place. Very few surgeons ever close the chest or abdomen after a decision that they will not remove a certain cancer without experiencing a painful feeling of futility.


Total Gastrectomy Rectal Resection Shoulder Girdle Hepatic Lobectomy Internal Mammary Chain 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 1967

Authors and Affiliations

  • George T. Pack
    • 1
  1. 1.Pack Medical FoundationNew YorkUSA

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