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June 9, 2011
One of the most important single procedures used by the physician is the use of his hands in order to palpate or feel changes that have occurred underneath the surface of the body. As medicine is practiced in some parts of the world, patients seldom get time even to remove the necessary clothing to permit the doctor to look at the skin or to put his hands on various portions of the body in order to feel changes that have taken place.When there is a suspicion of a new growth the doctor will look to see if there is any visible sign of a change on the surface of the body. He will then press with his fingers to determine whether or not lumps may be felt underneath the skin, or whether the outlines of various organs in the abdomen have been changed from what is usually felt.New instruments have been developed that enable the doctor to project his powers of observation in a way that was not possible fifty years ago. There is now an electrically-lighted instrument for every entrance and exit of the human body. The cystoscope, the bronchoscope, the esophagoscope, and the gastroscope are types of instruments which enable the doctor to look into the urinary bladder, the bronchial tubes, the stomach, and many other portions of the body.With the X-ray the doctor can detect changes in the outlines of organs inside the body, and by combinations of the use of the X-ray with the use of certain drugs that can be taken internally he can get pictures of changes in outline and in functioning of various tissues of the body. He can even see tumors which project into the cavities inside the brain. In addition, there are devices such as the electroencephalograph which enable the doctor to determine changes in the function of the brain. There are also functional tests for the kidney, the stomach, the liver, the heart, and other vital organs.Transillumination means that light is thrown through the tissues of the body; this is one of the tests that is used particularly in studying the breast for the presence of new growths.New also in the study of cancer is the use of radioactive isotopes. We know today that certain chemical substances taken into the body will be carried by the blood to certain organs or tissues, where they are deposited. Thus, more than 90 per cent of iodine taken into the body goes directly to the thyroid gland. Calcium is deposited in bones and teeth. Some substances go directly to the liver. Radioactivity attached to these chemical substances goes with them, and they can then be detected in various portions of the body by use of the device called the Geiger counter, which shows the presence of the radioactive substances by a clicking sound. All over the country research is now being made to determine how valuable radioactive isotopes can be in aiding not only in diagnosis but also in treatment of cancer.New also in the study of cancerous changes are the studies that are now being made on the blood. Certain conditions such as excessively rapid growth of the red blood cells, called polycythemia, or excessively rapid growth of white blood cells, as in leukemia, can only be detected by examining specimens of the blood under the microscope. Since these conditions come on insidiously, a proper examination will always include the taking of a specimen of blood and an observation of this blood under the microscope. It will include also counting of the cells in the blood, because there are several different types of cells and the relative percentages of various types of cells in the blood may be of the greatest significance in relation to determining the existence of these conditions that are called cancer of the blood.*3/318/5*
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