A Look Back: 70 Years of Cancer Care Advancements
Seventy years ago, Truman was president; the average American life expectancy
was just over 60 years (as compared to 80 years today); at least 40% of
Americans smoked; and cancer treatment and research were only just beginning
to gain steam. Meanwhile, in Gaston County, City Hospital had just been
purchased by a group of concerned citizens—a move that would transform
healthcare in the region.
In the decades since the 1940s, major strides for cancer detection, prevention
and treatment have been made around the world and at home. CaroMont Cancer
Center opened in Gaston County in 1989, and our cancer specialists have
diagnosed and treated thousands of people over the years. Advancing technology
and treatment—while offering compassionate, neighborly support to
patients in the midst of their fight—is our first priority. From
our Automated Breast Ultrasound to our TrueBeam radiation therapy, we
are proud to offer some of the most advanced cancer detection and treatment
technologies in the region
So in celebration of our 70th anniversary and our on-going commitment to a healthier region, these are
just a few of the many, many milestones in the world’s journey to
- Chemotherapy is invented.
Although combination treatments (chemotherapy plus surgery or radiation
therapy) wouldn’t be used until the 1960s, major advances in chemotherapy
were made in the 1940s. First, nitrogen mustard (a chemical used in WWI)
became the first cancer-fighting agent. Then, in 1947, Dr. Sidney Farber,
a pediatrician focused on leukemia, made a major breakthrough and discovered
aminopterin—a drug that would become the foundation of modern chemotherapy.
- Smoking is linked to lung cancer.
It’s hard to believe now, but in the first half of the 20th century, the negative health effects of tobacco consumption weren’t
known. But in the 1950s, a British scientist became the first person to
link smoking to lung cancer in a groundbreaking study. This is significant
because, today, smoking is the most important preventable cause of cancer
in the world. Lung cancer is the second leading cause of death in Gaston
County, so we remain diligently committed to this fight in our region.
- Major discoveries transform breast cancer treatment.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the world. So when medical trials
in 1981 showed that removing just the tumor (lumpectomy) and not the whole
breast (mastectomy) was equally effective for treating early breast cancers,
treatment became much less invasive and painful for women. In 1994, the
BRCA1 gene—a hereditary gene linked to breast and ovarian cancers—was
discovered. Millions of women can test for the gene today and improve
their chances of preventing or detecting cancer, thanks to this discovery.
- Mapped DNA unlocks new cancer research.
In 2003, the Human Genome Project was completed. This project included
an incredible task of mapping the sequences of human DNA. This amazing
work opened the door to new possibilities for cancer treatments and detection
methods. Today, many innovative therapies or screening technologies can
be credited to the pioneering work of the Human Genome Project.
Ending cancer is an enormous initiative, and the world still has a long
way to go before the disease is completely eradicated. But in last 70
years, countless lives have been saved in Gaston County and around the
world thanks to dedicated cancer research, prevention, detection and treatment.
CaroMont is committed to fighting cancer—and to standing side-by-side
with every single cancer patient along the way. For more information about
our advanced cancer treatment options, screenings or the CaroMont Cancer