Article ID: CBB001420751

Histopathology Slides from Medical Research to Medical Practice in Interwar Strasbourg (2013)


Histopathologists have been interested in cancer since the beginning of cellular theory. Rudolf Virchow and Julius Cohnheim defined cancer as a disease due to specific changes in tissues; cancer was thus considered a pathologist's disease. Virchow emphasized the principles of biopsy and its value in the diagnosis of malignant tumours, but he himself did not promote it as an instrument for diagnosis. In the nineteenth century, in fact, cancer was a pathologists' disease in research only, not in diagnosis. By the mid-twentieth century, pathologists figured in medical practice as mediators between alternative therapeutic solutions. Histopathology entered a new arena, medical practice. In this paper, the process through which microscope slides moved from histopathology research to medical practice will be explored in detail with the aim of understanding how medical research integrates routine medical practices. The quasi-inherent character of scientific knowledge as relevant to medical practice is not taken for granted here. Through a study of medical school laboratory records from the interwar period in Strasbourg, I argue that pathologists could direct patients to specific forms of therapy on the basis of microscopic slides of cancer cells because they had defined (and re-defined) cancers by contributing to establishing radiation therapy practices.

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Authors & Contributors
Grob, Gerald N.
Scheffler, Robin Wolfe
Cantor, David
Cambrosio, Alberto
Keating, Peter
Lellouch, Alain
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
Bulletin of the History of Medicine
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
Rutgers University Press
Oxford University Press
Columbia University
Yale University
University of Chicago Press
Disease and diseases
Cancer; tumors
Therapeutic practice; therapy; treatment
Virchow, Rudolf Carl
Charcot, Jean Martin
Old, Lloyd J.
Borst, Maximilian
United States
Great Britain
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
20th century
19th century
20th century, late
21st century
20th century, early
École de Santé de Paris

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