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Dr. Vera Peters

2015-03-18 | 🔗

Dr. Peters helped revolutionize the treatment of both breast cancer and Hodgkin's lymphoma. But, at the time, her work was largely dismissed. Read the show notes here.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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before the coming technological revolution would be restless business leaders who stand right on the cutting edge they know is a better way to get things done and they are ready curious excited for the next technological innovation to unlock their vision of the future in each episode learn more from the restless ones themselves and dive deep into how the five g revolution could enable their teams to thrive the restless it is now available and i heart radio up or wherever you listen to pod casts continued to you missed in history has from howstuffworks dot allowance and actually phoebe well i'm how we fraud we ve mentioned quite a number of times that we have been extensively long list of today's on the packet
there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of listeners submitted suggestions and that we have our own to do list and they are both very long and sometimes sort of like when you're you have access to hundreds of channels on the television it just feels like nothing's on i stress that are all these things and there are so many great ideas on their but none of them are quite catching my attention that day and you and i both know from experience that the best episodes come from one we're really engage with it which argue about yeah if you're just not in the mood for topic even if it's enough topic it does not turn out as well as if you wait a little while and let it become the thing that catches your mood right and some of the things i went in the mood to talk about we're on hold until stuck had come in from the library so i was browsing around the internet and found a post on rejected princesses about doktor vera peters who was one of the foremost oncologists in the world in her time
not only was she one of the only female on colleges in the world she completely changed the standard of care for two different types of cancer and she was one of rejecting princesses modern worthies amazing usually about a woman who died in the last fifty years we rejected princesses modern worthies posts to be pretty brief so this would have the highlights doktor peters helped revolutionized the treatment of both breast cancer and hodgkin's lymphoma but at the time that she did her work was largely ignored and dismissed so naturally immediately i wanted to know a lot more about this person in what she did therefore we're gonna have a whole episode on her today hooray will do the usual set up early life european leaders was born in rex dale ontario on april twenty eighth of nineteen eleven she's one of seven children and her parents for dairy farmers her mother was also a teacher vieira and her sister
we worked on the farm starting at a very early age particularly after the sudden death of their father her first education was in a one room schoolhouse she finished high school at sixteen and she wanted to new already that she wanted to become a doktor she was too young to start medical school though so she enrolled in the university of toronto steady math and physics and then she transferred to the medical programme the following year she works summer jobs to save up our money and her brother and her sisters helped pay her way as well while she was working as a waitress on a tourist ship she met ten lob who was the man she would later mary and they would eventually have to daughters together while she was still in medical school her mother was treated for breast cancer and after a recurrence she was treated by doktor gordon richards who at that point was one of the most respected doctors in the field of radiation on quality which at that point was pretty early
in its development doktor richards was also one of the doctors that there are studied under and there is mother unfortunately the diver cancer which is one of the things that lead bear to want to study the disease later in her life doktor peters graduated from medical school in nineteen thirty four and went on to a residency in radiology toronto general hostile at this point in medicine there was no official training protocol or certification for radio therapy so doktor peters apprenticed with doktor richards and she started working at the ontario institute of radium therapy in nineteen thirty five and she continued to work with doktor richer dried up until his death in january of nineteen forty nine the far we get into more of the specifics of her medical work here's a caveat factor peters did really groundbreaking work and the treatment of two different cancers and we're gonna talk about them enough to give a sense of why her work was
important but this is absolutely not meant to be a thorough exploration of either cancer even or even of the human body systems that they involved this is also definitely not a thorough ex examination of how these cancers are treated today because the whole field of oncology has evolved tremendously since doktor peters retired and nineteen seventy six so this is much more about how the developments that doctor here's how light changed the way medicine was working at a time than about the diseases specifically or how their treated today so darker peters first groundbreaking work within the treatment of hodgkin's disease which was before that point considered to being terrible now more commonly known as hodgkin's lymphoma this is a cancer that affects the lymphatic system its name for doktor thomas hodgkin who described it in eighteen thirty two
the major difference between hodgkin's lymphoma and the more common non hodgkin's lymphoma is that hodgkin's lymphoma involve large abnormal cells called red sternberg cells while these cells are not present in non hodgkin's lymphoma between its first description in eighteen thirty two and nineteen oh two no doctors reported any successful treatment of hodgkin's lymphoma at all the first somewhat successful treatment was which was described in nineteen o too with the use of x rays on the involved lymph nodes and while the stage shrink the affected needs some light it didn't care the disease that may be bought people have little time there were a few advances between nineteen or two in nineteen thirty nine when doktor ranuzio bare of geneva switzerland described treating the affected lymph nodes with radiation he treated both the affected lymph nodes and other parts of the body that were not apparently affected
and while some of his patients did improve many relapsed and he didn't think of any of them as having been cured factor peters mentor doktor richards we mentioned earlier installed a four hundred killable radiation machine at the anterior radio therapy institute in nineteen thirty seven just a couple of years before doctors but still bears description of his method this with a higher voltage machine than white doctors you'll bear was using and doktor their use this machine to treat his patients for a variety of cancers doktor richards method with hodgkin's lymphoma with to use extended field radiation on the affected lymph nodes and adjacent nodes although some accounts described this irradiation of nearby nodes as prophylactic it wasn't really to prevent disease it was too cancer cells that had already spread to adjacent nodes but weren't yet detectable at first factor peers
early work thundered doktor richard supervision she was kind of apprentices to him but it he became were experiences the doktor she began to treat patients on her own as well in ninety four seven after ten years of treating lymphoma patience with the four hundred kilowatt machine doktor richards made observation to doktor peters it seemed to him that some of their patients were surviving a long time with no relapse even though hodgkin's lymphoma was supposedly incurable how she wanted to evaluate their work on the matter so there are some people who interpret this as meaning that doctor richards should get credit for what happened next after all especially the beginning he was the one who is successfully the patients for their cancer but what he really did was give doktor peters a question to answer and the work she did to answer that question eventually changed the perception of hodgkin's lymphoma for being an incurable disease to a terrible one doktor peter spent too
here studying one hundred and thirteen patients who had been conclusively diagnosed with hodgkin's lymphoma and treated with radiation at the hospital where she worked she largely did this by hand at her dining room table she was ready to present her findings to our colleagues in nineteen forty nine which was unfortunately after doktor richards had already dyed her findings revealed though that his theory was right there patients were living longer than lymphoma patients that other hospitals there five year survival rate had double and there are ten years survival rate has tripled patients and stage wine which was the least advanced stage we have the media and of eleven point six years and should describe any of the patients as cured but their prey this was really a lot better in her tone was a lot more optimistic than any of the medical wisdom on hodgkin's lymphoma at the time the idea of approaching
can lymphoma with the goal of curing it was revolutionary and even under peters had clear compelling data to back up what she was saying it took about ten years for the matter was stabbed which meant to start taking this comes have seriously factor peters presented a follow up paper and nineteen fifty six that included two hundred ninety one hodgkin's lymphoma cases with all of the data just have followed by pointing to the idea that hodgkin's disease could be cured especially in the early stages for perceptions in the medical field didn't really start to james until eric see ethan and marion h russell using doktor peters data confirmed her work in your paper cure i've hodgkin's disease that was nineteen sixty three it took even longer than that for the hodgkin's disease could be approached as something that can be cured in a medical textbook treatments have continued to advance
today especially if its car in the early stages hodgkin's diseases considered one of the most curable adult cancers having made these kinds of strides in hodgkin's disease doktor peters turned her focus to breast cancer which was personally important to her because of her mother and we'll talk about that work after a brief advocate hey pack has listeners have you ever wanted to share a love story with someone but you may be wanted to do it in a really unique in interesting way or you were struggling to get the exact rate words in place will you don't know do we about that you can put it into a book and that is where love book comes in love books help customers express those sentiments that there working hard to make their own unique thing and each book is completely michael most customers use them to list the reasons why they love someone but you can you all kinds of things who can create characters it look like yourself and the recipient radon outfits and accessories you can personalize each page as much
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in fact repeaters in her patients were transferred their as aside now we're about to talk about breast cancer for awhile and while men can and do get breast cancer we're really going to be talking about women here because that's the work that doctor peters was doing the all of her focus was on breast cancer treatment and women not in men so we're not excluding men for some other reason as does the work that she was focused on so at this point the overwhelming majority of patients who were diagnosed with breast cancer were treated with a radical mastectomy also called the halsted procedure for the doktor who popularized in almost as soon as they were diagnosed they would go in for a biopsy which was done under general anesthesia and if the lump was cancer is they have the mastectomy before they regained consciousness this made the possibility of breast cancer particularly terrifying women got onto an operating table not knowing if they had cancer or not and not knowing
they would wake up without abreast or not the mastectomy itself which was the standard treatment regardless of whether the cancer had spread beyond one too was a lot more involved than mastectomies tepid typically are today a radical mastectomy removes more than just the breath that also removes the pictorial muscles under them asked along with the lymph nodes under the arm on the same side is the affected breast this idea was the cancer was left we ve spread if you literally removed all of the things adjacent to it where it was most likely to spread and you know why leaves are the places that cancer is most likely to go after appearing in the breast this court was the course of action regardless of whether cancer have been detected in any of these other places needless to say a radical mastectomy
permanently and significantly altered the body even after the reconstruction a woman's chest itself would look a lot different it would basically buck concave because of the loss of the pictorial so all over and over again modern medical papers describe radical mastectomies of the past as in this quote disfiguring such a huge change such a personal part of the body was psychologically and emotionally damaging for many patients for the rest of their lives could also be physically disabling since it removed some of the muscles used to control a person's arm and the loss of lives aids can leads a permanent swelling at an increase likelihood of infections and the arm nerve damage was also a really frequent complication why today radical mastectomy is extremely rare and it's only perform when there really is cancer in those adjacent tissues when people are mastectomies
hey they're usually what's considered a simple mastectomy which removes the breast but leaves at least some of the lymph nodes or a modified radical mastectomy which removes the breast and lymph nodes but only gets into the pictorial muscles if the cancer has actually spread their even though a radical mastectomy was a standard of care for breast cancer patients at this point there were a few people who didn't have them because of other medical conditions or in a very limited number of cases the patient's you just put their foot down and refused to have more aggressive surgery these patients had surgery is that conserved more of their breast it was either a simple mastectomy or
i'm back to me unless there is some medical reason why a woman could not have a radical new sector me these options were pretty much always against medical advice doktor peters previous work with lymphoma meant she was particularly insightful when it came to how cancer spread through the lymphatic system patients were often referred to her for follow up radiation treatment after their surgery and she also had personal experience with how traumatic beth breast cancer treatment could be after she had lost her mother to the disease in nineteen thirty three so she wanted it if less drastic treatments could prove to be as effective as an aspect me while still preserving as much of the breast as possible she publish their first work on this subject in nineteen sixty seven and it was based on com
during the survival rates for women who had been treated or their cancer with different forms of treatment she studied the record of seven thousand patients who had been treated between nineteen thirty five and nineteen sixty eight hundred and fifty two of these patients had had their lump removed theory biology a hundred and twenty four of those had radiation as their only follow up treatment while the others had some combination of mass back to me and radiation what she found was that there was absolutely no did france and the survival time between the women who had just had over back to me and the women who had had a mastectomy when it came to women with stage one stage to breast cancer in her opinion the more conservative surgery which preserves the woman's breast was just as viable medical option as mastectomy and this was a completely controversial stance at the time in her words
boat i was refuted and shunned by most of the outstanding surgeons in the states except for doktor george trial of cleveland she was determined bow and so she decided to do a case concerning a case control study of the records from princess margaret hospital so all she had previously column through all of the records and looked at them as a whole this time she controlled for the age of the patients their health factors whether they also had other cancers she narrowed it downs only patients with stage one breast cancer and then she meticulously matched up the ones you had a lump back to me and rhetoric and radiation with the ones you had a mess back to me and radiation and two maps them up she looked at their ages how large the tumor was and the year that the treatment place this gave her a hundred and forty five pair in which the lumpectomy group had no statistically significant difference than the mastectomy group in fact
my group had slightly better survival than the mastectomy group in other words for women with state won t answer a more conservative treatment the preserve their breasts did not harm their chances of survival radical mastectomy was necessary when the disease had not started to spread and nineteen seventy five she presented these findings at the royal college of positions and surgeons of canada meeting and when a peg manitoba their response was really sceptical at best two years late doktor peters pebble published an updated version of the paper in an international journal which gave it more exposure and also came to the exact same conclusions paper she was really direct in her opinion she said quote as more and more conservative studies ripen as more and more concerned physicians observe the adverse effects of excessive treating
as more and more women become armed with knowledge mastectomy and early breast cancer may become as old fashioned as bloodletting doktor peters retired from the hospital the year before that revised paper was published although she maintained a part time practice and she continued to teach but gradually oncologist did start taking a more conservative approach to early stage breath cancers today women with early stage breast cancer generally have a mistake to me if there's some medical reason to do so doktor peters impact on the medical field also went beyond just the specific treatment of these two cancers and we'll talk about how after a brief add break this episode of stuff you missed in history classes brought to you by norton three sixty with lifelong what they are shopping online with smartphone its super feels like ear personal information is just right there in your hand but that's not always the case because as soon as you hit submit your point
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twenty five percent or more of your first year go to norton dot com slash history that's norton dot com slash history for twenty five percent of fair to return the doktor peters alot of people take the idea of patient centred care for granted today even if they ve never heard that term specifically i know that lots of people have lots of different access to medical care depending on all kinds of factors including their income level on their age and their raising laughs lots of different issues but for the most part when people go to the doktor they kind of expect their doktor to treat them like a human being and to listen to them and to explain what's going on and this was not really healthy
worked when doktor peters started practising medicine she was really a foreigner and the idea of listening to you a patient's wishes and explaining to them and helping them make decisions about their own treatment this whole idea was really far from standard at meetings he was practicing medicine yeah she actually got to know her patience and she helped make decisions about their own health care rather than just seeing them as a condition to treat and telling them what to do another
common attitude today is that when you go to the doktor you should get a treatment that's going to be the right amount to solve the problem not something that's just going to be so completely aggressive that's gonna blast the problem away but then also leave you with potentially lots of scar their heave side effects are lena lots of adverse effects to taking here the problem this was also courted doktor peters philosophy as a doctor she wanted to do the most conservative treatment to get the job done and was really different from a lot of what was going on at the time obviously doctors were putting women to sleep to do a biopsy than taking their entire breast even in the case of really small tumors that hadn't progressed anywhere she really wanted to avoid the risk that came up side effects and other publications by doing more minimal treatment but still trade in actual problem and she was also a role model for young women who are interested in becoming doctors not just because of her success as a doctor but also because
proved that eleven could be a doctor while also being a wife and mother and now that really needed proving at this point in history she did out of her researcher home since she was compiling her work by hand she wouldn't have been able to make them freeze that she did otherwise but outside the myth of the medical world she was missus law the mother of two think a lot of the other like female foreigners in the world of medicine we fact about have been women who issued the more traditional stereotypical feminine side and so it actually was a big deal that in addition to being a doktor she got married and had children all of this work with additionally incredible because at this point there were hardly any women doctors at all let alone and doctors who were on the cutting edge of their field revolutionizing the treatment of multiple diseases and actively repeaters became an officer of the order of canada in nineteen seventy eight she was awarded
old metal from the american society a therapeutic radiology and nineteen seventy nine and the woman of sanction a word from the canadian breast cancer foundation in nineteen eighty eight family she died of cancer on october first nineteen ninety three at the age of eighty two she died at princess margaret hospital in toronto where she had worked or most of her car and she was inducted into the canadian medical hall of fame in twenty ten it's kind of a fight moved there was a play about her called radical which was written by charles hater who was also an analogous but actually premier
you just sell outstanding remotely crowd at the toronto french festival in july twenty fourteen thank you doctor we repeaters you and i both have family experience with breast cancer and the fact that somebody said okay we have got to just stop treating women as a thing to put on a table and remove part of their body without actually talking about it like that's a big deal
the eyes like the idea of not being asked questions about treatment is so alien to me that its shocking yeah yeah and you i said this to you off mike an ominous sign on my ass i was researching this i found a citation of that cure for hodgkin's disease paper was like a citation of the paper that was then another and another journal and it cited the male doctors doktor and the female author of the papers myths and i could not figure out whether she was actually a doctor when that notation was published right because it is possible that she was credited other paper but was not yet a medical doctor but i sincerely wonder basin oliver things
hang on at the time whether she was discredited dismiss instead of doktor because she was a woman yeah for about the mainstream remains to be solved in the meantime i think you might have listener meal for us was nor mail the fools another listener mail from our brown verses board theories and it is from visa fee if as i recently listen to your brown verses board of education and found the aftermath episode fascinating i grew up in downtown boston and even though i was born in the early eighties people were still talking about bussing in the nineteenth and early two thousands in horror boston is set up in a series of small neighborhoods which were once full of families and children was very common for people especially children and their mothers to live their lives wholly in their neighborhood my grandmother raised for children worked shopped and socialized in a one square mile piece of boston and back then that was completely normal
the people of these neighborhoods had paper had pride and until pretty recently residents were incredibly territorial black people were taste that of white neighborhoods for not belonging but to wear white people say thought of black neighbourhoods and ninety nine or i would state that of an irish neighborhoods who blocks for my italian neighborhood because i didn't belong there boston was not immune to racial tensions but the thing i was still hearing about in ninety ninety six was the horror of having to take a bus with strangers to a neighborhood far from home to sit in a strange school with more strange kids who were from a completely different culture my family lived in the italian section of boston and my mother didn't meet someone who wasn't italian maybe irish and catholic until she was fifteen years old the prospect of having to go on a bustle of strangers to a neighborhood where she was not welcome to be one of the few white kids in a predominantly backs lack school this idea was dancing not dimension emigrants in my neighborhood didn't want their daughters so far from home a culture
thing many of my mother schoolmates worse than to catholic school to avoid the need to move or the needs above the catholic schools were overrun she goes on to talk about a more personal story about integration at her own school which are not going to go into detail about because i feel like a little bit too much identifying information to go on here but she ends by saying that now and she goes back to item on to her alma mater the halsey more and more colorful which i thought was a good note that i spent a lot of time to boston if you walk around boston you can still still see really clear hallmarks of the different cultures that settled different parts of boston like there are very clear this this used to be an entirely italian neighbour
an enlarged cases still predominantly in it an italian neighbourhood but i had not realized how deeply there is community ties ram and then it was to the extent that like this little insular insular neighbourhood with its own little thing that people were very protective of without seeing it in a greater context of boston as a whole which i think probably most people not from boston think of boston and also probably cambridge as a thing even though there are lots of different insular communities all around the area for thank you for sending us that note if you'd like to write to us about this or any other progress where it is replied yes it has to fort sumter on were also on facebook
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-02.