Doctor Sidney Farber – The Father of Chemotherapy

Today, we know that cancer is a deadly and frightening disease. But we also know that treatments and survival rates are improving all the time and that a lot of research is going on and paid clinical trials are being ran by companies such as Trials 4 us that are always building on our understanding and knowledge of the treatment of the illness.

It is common knowledge today that for many kinds of cancers the treatment is chemotherapy. This is an effective treatment that despite having unpleasant side effects, has been a mainstay of treating cancer for many years. But do you know the name of the man who discovered this form of treatment, which led to many lives being saved?

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Doctor Sidney Farber worked at Boston children’s hospital, just after the second world war ended. He was determined that funding would be secured for the research into cancer treatments. His work studying Leukaemia meant that he saw a lot of children and young adults sick with the disease that he was certain a cure could be found for.

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He was certain that he was able to treat the disease that affects the white blood cells, and he treated a group of children with an experimental drug in 1947. This was the first ever use of chemotherapy to cure cancer – and this resulted in the first ever remission of leukaemia in the world.

By the middle of the 1950s, he also had an entire floor in the children’s hospital, which he ran according to his complete care principals – a place where all related care happened in one place. This has now become the model all over the world.

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