London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Fulham 1927

Annual report of the Medical Officer of Health for the year 1927

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Cancer of the Rectum.
This disease may occur not only during middle and
advanced age, but also in younger persons. A report
on the subject prepared by Dr. Darbyshire was published
by the Ministry of Health during 1927, and
several points noted by the Chief Medical Officer are
of special interest.
"The report is based on the examination of rather
less than 6,000 cases in which operations for radical
cure were performed in 10 different Countries."
"On the average a period of twelve months was
allowed to elapse between the occurrence of the first
symptom of the disease and the patient coming to the
As in the case of cancer of the uterus, "rather less
than half the cases when seen by the surgeons were
considered to be operable."
"Two out of every five of those submitted to
operation were alive three years afterwards."
The opinion that cases are more amenable to
operation in women than in men has been confirmed,
"whereas no evidence has been forthcoming to ratify
the common belief that cancer of the rectum is of
graver importance in young persons than in older ones,
a result which is in agreement with that obtained in
the inquiry into cancer of the uterus."
"Another point that has emerged is the frequency
with which pain is an early symptom of this disease.
With the exception of irregular action of the bowels
it is the commonest first indication."
Sir George Newman in his Annual Report for 1926,
considers the question as to where the hope of the
future lies and states, "It appears to lie primarily in
the discovery of some means such as a bio-chemical
test of early and certain diagnosis followed by the
application of some method of treatment not involving