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A Look Back: 70 Years of Cancer Care Advancements


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 beat cancer.

  • 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 Center, please click here.

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