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

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Stoke Newington 1922

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Stoke Newington, The Metropolitan Borough]

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449
The problem is to get the case into the hands of a competent
medical adviser while it is still in the early and curable stage, or
even more fortunately, while the patient exhibits merely those
conditions which are now widely recognised as predisposing factors
in the causation of Cancer.
The evidence of the relationship of Cancer to irritation and
local injury is overwhelming. The prolonged irritation caused by
smoking clay pipes which stick to the lips, by broken jagged teeth
which irritate the tongue, by gall.stones and stones in the kidney.
The scratching of moles and warts and their irritation by clothing,
or the application of irritating liquids, ointments and pastes to
innocent growths. Chimney sweep's Cancer is now almost unknown,
Tar Boiler's Cancer is rare, Cancer of the lips is much rarer since
clay pipes went out of fashion. Many cases of Breast Cancer were
clearly due to mid.Victorian taste in corsets. Cancer of the Liver
was very often due to habits of constipation.
The Danger Signals of Cancer.
It must be emphasised that none of these signs necessarily
signify Cancer. They may be due to Cancer ; and all middle.aged
individuals must realise this and act accordingly.
In middle.aged women any irritating, malodorous or biood.
streaked discharge needs to be investigated. It must not be simply
ascribed to " the change of life." Any marked increase of menstruation
setting in during middle life or bleeding during the periods,
or an increased flow at change of life, or recurrence after it has
stopped, are also to be suspected. A " lump " in the breast is a
serious symptom. In either sex, in middle.aged persons, the
following symptoms call for action : Prolonged disturbance of the


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