National Geographic : 1945 Feb
Whats this new word Medical science is full of strange and unusual words. One of the most exciting is "chemotherapy." As it may mean a lot to you-you might like to know more about it. 2. For the 20 years after that, research brought no striking discoveries. Then a strange chain of events revealed that a patented dye possessed a life-saving element. And so, the sulfonamide drugs were made available to the world. In the less than ten years they have been in common use, they have saved countless lives. Some forms of meningitis, streptococcic infections, and other dread diseases including the common forms of pneumonia, have met a powerful adversary. COPYRIGHT 1945-METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (A MUTUAL COMPANY) Frederick H. Ecker Leroy A. Lincoln CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD PRESIDENT 1 MADISON AVENUE, NEW YORK 10, N. Y. 1. Many of our badly wounded soldiers, sailors, and marines owe their lives to new drugs... sulfa and penicillin... which have had spectacular suc cess against perils like gangrene, terrible burns, and blood poisoning. Chemotherapy - which takes advantage of the effects of chemical ac tion upon body tissues and invading bacteria is ages old in theory. But its modern, most effec tive practice began soon after 1900 with the dis covery of salvarsan. 3. The next discovery, penicillin, although not strictly a chemical, attacks some of the same germs as the sulfa drugs-and others against which these drugs have little or no success. But the search for other "specific" chemicals is far from over. Medical scientists constantly seek to improve existing ones and find new germ-fighting elements. There must be long and careful experi ments for each discovery, for sometimes the "germ-poison" is poisonous to the human body. 4. But chemotherapy is no cure-all. Because it does so much to reduce the deadliness of some of our worst diseases, some people may expect it to perform miracles. It must always be remem bered that these chemicals should not be used without sound medical advice, otherwise there may be detrimental results. But chemotherapy, rightly used, is a tremendous gift of medical science to our civilization.