The Texas Cancer Center – centrifugal spread

September 11, 2016

This theory of "centrifugal spread" became the foundation of surgical oncology. We now know that this theory was wrong. Cancer does spread to distant organs primarily through the blood stream. But Halsted’s great reputation at the time meant acceptance of his ideas as holy writ.

This flawed perception of tumor spread supported aggressive surgical treatment. Surgeons believed that if the tumor could be surrounded and removed the patient could be cured. The "centrifugal spread" theory meant that cure was totally in the hands of their surgeon