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Glob Adv Health Med. 2012 Mar;1(1):92-100. doi: 10.7453/gahmj.2012.1.1.016.

Fever in Cancer Treatment: Coley's Therapy and Epidemiologic Observations.

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Senior research scientist at the Institute for Applied Epistemology and Medical Methodology at the University of Witten/Herdecke in Freiburg, Germany.


In the fall of 1890, an athletic, self-possessed, and thoughtful 17-year-old girl, who had just returned from an adventurous trip to Alaska where she had hurt her hand in a trivial accident, went to see a young, innovative surgeon in his new practice in New York City. Barely out of Harvard Medical School, he was a rising star in New York surgical circles, and the young woman asked him for help with her poorly healing, swollen, and naggingly painful injury. This visit had a far-reaching effect on cancer research, American philanthropy, and the career of the young man, William Coley, MD (1862-1936, Figure 1). The patient, Elisabeth Dashiell, confidant and close friend of John D. Rockefeller, Jr, was diagnosed by Coley with a highly aggressive round cell sarcoma, and despite radical surgery and in spite of Coley's undoubtedly fine surgical skills and intensive care, a rapid progression of the cancer, immense suffering, and Elisabeth's death a few months later could not be prevented.


Cancer; Coley; MBV; carcinoma; epidemiology; fever; leukemia; remission; sarcoma; tumor; vaccine; Ḋinfectious disease

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