In the 21st century, cancer is the most feared disease. It’s regarded as one of the deadliest ailment in history. In fact, its oldest definition dates back to about 3000 BC. The 8 cases of cancer or tumors were clearly described in the Edwin Smith Papyrus’s ancient Egyptian textbook on trauma surgery, which stated that the only way to treat breast cancer was by cauterization. This practice was done using a tool called a fire drill. Sounds complicated, right? The fact is; it was indeed complicated. Even worse, the writings stated that there was no treatment to cancer.
Over the years and with the evolution of the new technology, three surgeons made history in the world of cancer by making significant contributions that would completely change the treatment of cancer. These legends are; Handley in London, Halsted in Baltimore, and Billroth in Germany. William Hasted was responsible for the introduction of radical mastectomy that is up-to-date used in the treatment of breast cancer. His research was, however, based on Handley’s theory, which stated that cancer spread outward by infecting other cells from its original growth.
Later on, with the help of another surgeon-Stephen Paget, they came to a conclusion that cancer cells multiply by way of the bloodstream to entire organs of the body. They also concluded that cancer cell were only able to grow in a few organs. However, their discoveries were not as greatly rooted as Billroth’s. He made history and finally let his long-lived prestige-indeed, his enthusiasm to the field of aseptic surgery, which was the invention of gastric surgery that is up-to-date used in the treatment of peptic and stomach cancer. So, other than that, what are his other inventions? What actually led to his exceptional fame in the cancer world? Read through to find out all the answers in this blog.
Billroth’s contribution to cancer treatment
On January 29, 1881, Billroth performed his first surgery. He removed a tumor that had afflicted the pyloric sphincter. It is a part of the body that governs the passage between the intestines and the stomach- for those who don’t know what pyloric sphincter is. Of course, in the medical fraternity, being the first surgeon to successfully perform such a procedure is a huge achievement. In fact, this procedure was given the name Billroth 1 in his honor. Even with such an achievement, Billroth went ahead and performed yet another operation, which was later named Billroth 2.
Billroth 2 was a similar operation to his first. However, unlike Billroth 1 that did not promise long-term results, this operation provided hope for a better long-term success. He started out by fixing errors in his previous operations. Among some of Billroth 1’s major errors included leakage to the stomach’s larger opening that led to subsequent infections. So, to fix it, he employed a testing innovation, which included using animals as test samples. After several trial and errors, he finally came up with a solution that involved stitching up the cut end of the stomach and top of the duodenum. This heroic operation paved the way for an array of improvements that are up to date a big thing in the field of medicine.
They say the present is the outcome of the past. True, we could not be where we are if Billroth, Halsted, and Handley did not make the bold step in inventing cancer treatment methods. It is for these reasons that we should embrace innovation and all the goods it brings forth for the sake of the coming generations.
Published by Saade Y. Makhlouf