Historical Perspectives of the Immune System and Cancer

2019 John A. Catanzaro

Peregrine Laziosi (1260–1345), as a young man, developed a large swelling on a leg (uncertain as to which leg), which was diagnosed as cancer. The lesion ulcerated and the stench, caused by the infection, was said to be so overpowering that his friends could not bear to stay with him. Amputation seemed the only option but, when the surgeons came to operate, the tumor was found to be in regression and it eventually healed completely. He had no recurrence of the cancer, lived to be 85 years of age, was canonized as Saint Peregrine in 1726 and is recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as the Patron Saint of cancer patients [1]. This is just one example of reports, over past centuries, of the spontaneous remission and even complete resolution of cancers following some form of infection [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9].

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