I have been studying the various forms of cancer that plague our society. It has come to my attention that people of certain occupations have higher frequencies of certain types of cancer than the general public does. In particular, chimney sweeps have a high rate of cancer of the scrotum. Young boys often enter the profession because they are able to squeeze down narrow chimneys. Once inside the chimneys, they spend hours scraping clean the accumulated tars that otherwise would cause disastrous chimney fires. Sweeps are continuously covered with soot, tar, and dust, and since they are not known for bathing with any regularity, this dust remains trapped in the folds of the skin. I believe that some agent in the coal tar, when exposed to the scrotum across many years, actually causes this disease.
Today I would like to present a most curious case. It may shed light on an aspect of cancer about which we know little. Many years ago, a man brought his 2-year-old son in for treatment of retinoblastoma, a very rare form of cancer that develops within the eye, often of young children. The cancer, if untreated, travels up the optic nerve until it reaches the brain and spreads throughout the body. I removed the tumor, and the boy was completely cured. He married and had seven children. Curiously, two of his girls developed retinoblastoma in both eyes. The parents refused treatment, and both girls died within several months. Here, a form of cancer that normally occurs once in every 20,000 children has occurred three times in one family. I believe this is evidence that susceptibility to cancer can be transmitted from parents to children, just like hair or eye color.
X-rays are the marvel of modern science. These powerful yet invisible rays permit us to see the inner workings of the body and provide treatments that we are just beginning to understand. Let technicians be warned, however, that these rays, while capable of doing great good, can also do great harm. We have noticed a high rate of skin cancer among technicians who use their hands to focus the energized machine. Patients are exposed only briefly to these rays. Technicians, on the other hand, work on these machines all day long and have many hours' of exposure. Our advice is to keep the machine turned off while adjusting it and even to go to the next room when it is time to energize it.
Now that the war is over, Americans are ready to relax and enjoy their freedom. What better place to recuperate than at the beach? Women have cast aside the Victorian fashions of yesteryear and have adopted the risqué swimsuit. Sunbathers say the more skin, the better. Be warned, however, that all this skin and sun can lead to painful burns. And now doctors warn of a possible connection between the sun's rays and skin cancer. Perhaps the unseen ultraviolet rays that fade our clothes can also damage skin and lead to deadly disease. A healthy tan may not be so healthy after all.
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