• D. Y. Wang
  • R. D. Bulbrook


The possibility that humoral agents might control the growth of tumors was recognized as early as 1889 when Schinzinger suggested a relationship between ovarian function and breast cancer. It was not until 1896, however, that Beatson described the beneficial effects of oophorectomy in two patients with advanced breast cancer. Not for the first time, an observation of fundamental importance had been made by a practicing clinician on what would be considered today a totally inadequate number of patients. It was nearly 20 years later that basic biological work started in earnest. In 1916, Lathrop and Loeb demonstrated that oophorectomy reduced the incidence of breast cancer in a strain of mice that had a high spontaneous incidence of this disease. Murray (1928) reinforced this finding by reporting that in castrated male mice, mammary cancer could be induced by ovarian grafts. At this time vigorous work was going on in many laboratories to isolate and identify the ovarian hormones, culminating in the discovery of estrone by Doisy, Veler, and Thayer (1929) and Marrian’s isolation of estriol in 1930. The new estrogens were available in minute amounts, but the French workers were able suddenly to produce relatively large quantities of estrone when Girard and Sandulesco (1936) devised a method for isolating methyl ketones. It was at last possible to investigate the role of the estrogens in mammary cancer using a pure standard hormone. Shortly afterwards, Lacassagne (1932) showed that the injection of estrone benzoate into male mice led to the development of mammary tumors, and since this date literally hundreds of papers have appeared on the same subject. Such was the impact of these findings that investigation of the involvement of pituitary hormones in mammary carcinogenesis was relegated to a relatively minor role. One of the earliest indications of the importance of the pituitary gland was the demonstration by Kortweg and Thomas (1939) that the mammary cancer incidence in mice was diminished by hypophysectomy.


Breast Cancer Mammary Gland Endometrial Cancer Advanced Breast Cancer Mammary Cancer 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Y. Wang
    • 1
  • R. D. Bulbrook
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EndocrinologyImperial Cancer Research Fund LaboratoriesLondonEngland

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