This malignant disease may be correctly classed under the head of Dyscrasia. Like tuberculosis, taken in its incipient stage it can be in a measure held back if not entirely eradicated, but permit it once to fasten firmly in the system, and its progress is as a general thing steadily onward, notwithstanding the utmost effort of human skill to arrest its march, until its victims, are relieved from pain by the welcome summons of death.
Scirrhus is characterized by great hardness. It is as firm as a cartilage, and creaks when divided by a knife. The surfaces exposed by its division, present a glisten ing, satiny appearance and a white, or grey, or bluish-white color.
The encephaloid cancer is composed in a great measure of a soft white, opaque pulpy substance, very closely resembling, both in color and consistency, that of the healthy brain. This pulp is traversed and circumscribed by fibrous septa. In the colloid or gum-like cancer, there is exhibited an appearance of small portions of a greenish-yellow transparent gum, or jelly, arranged in regular cells. Hence it is sometimes called alveolar cancer.
These three varieties may, notwithstanding the dissimilarity of their appearance, coexist in different organs of the same individual. If a tumor of one growth be amputated, and, as is often the case, a fresh growth springs from the same place, this secondary growth may be of another species. Occurring in any one part of the body, they are exceedingly prone to multiply in other parts, so that if one is removed by the surgeon's knife, the probability is that the disease will soon be developed in some other part of the body, if not in the same spot.
Cancerous growths are attended during some portion of their progress with severe pain; they enlarge in bulk sometimes slowly, at others with great rapidity, changing tissues and eating away contiguous parts, breaking out when near the surface into repulsive ulceration and ultimately destroying life. Vital parts are slowly disorganized by the corroding extension of these tumors and sometimes large blood-vessels are laid open, producing death by haemorrhage.
This disease is liable to attack every organ and tissue of the body: the brain, the eye, the lip and face, the lungs, the stomach, the intestines, the liver, the kidneys, the breast, the womb, the testicles, the bones, all may suffer from its frightful ravages. Among the parts, however, which are more frequently attacked than others, we may mention, the female mammae, the uterus, the stomach, liver and testicle.
The edges of a cancerous ulcer are generally hard, ragged, unequal and very painful. The whole surface of the sore is also unequal. The discharge is a thin, dark-colored, and fetid ichor, and in the advanced stages considerable blood is lost. A burning heat is felt over the ulcerated surface, and shooting or lancinating pains. When it occurs in the female breast, it is more liable to commence at that period, when the uterine functions are about to cease.
In cancer of the, stomach, there is but little perceptible difference between its earliest features and those of common nervous dyspepsy. In both, flatus, acid eructations, and weight in the stomach are present. At length, in cancer, decided pain is felt, in a little time becoming oppressive and shooting from the stomach into the back and loins, down the thighs. Nausea sets in, and the food is rejected, mixed with quantities of ropy mucus, by which the pain and oppression are relieved. The appetite cannot be indulged in to satisfaction from the aggravation of symptoms, which full meals and certain kinds of food induce. The bowels are generally costive. In this first stage of the disease under the influence of some cause, evident or undiscovered, all, or nearly all the symptoms may rapidly vanish and continue suspended for weeks or months, but a length a time arrives, when the disease takes firm possession.
A visible wasting now sets in, increasing as the malady advances to a frightful emaciation. The pain in the stomach may become constant, but aggravated after a meal. If the appetite still remain, the wretched patient fears to satisfy the craving, from the violent pain produced by the entrance of food, and the vomiting he knows will ensue. The vomiting no longer produces relief, but increases the distress, and may be brought on by the smallest quantity of food. Suffering now becomes habitual, and unmistakeable signs of anguish are plainly stamped on every feature. Beside the food vomited, various other matters are thrown from the stomach. Of these, the most common are fluids, containing a dark substance like coffee-grounds, uncoagulated blood, a thick poraceous matter, or finally a dark green serum. 14*
Debility gradually seizes on all the functions, until at length the patient, wasted almost to skin and bones, the pain and vomiting cease, and death comes without a struggle, a welcome messenger to free the poor victim from the agony he has so long endured.
Very much depends on the proper treatment during the percursory stage. Then, the disease may be held in check or perhaps entirely eradicated, while, if allowed to go on, it becomes so firmly seated, as in the majority of cases to terminate fatally.
Arsenic is undoubtedly the prominent remedy in all forms of cancer. Where the cancer attacks the face, lips, cheeks, nose, or tongue, its indications may be seen in the burning swelling in the nose, painful to the touch; ulceration of the nostrils with discharge of fetid ichor; ulcers in the whole face; wart-shaped ulcer on the check; ulcerated eruption around the lips, with burning pain, particularly when the parts become cold; spreading ulcer on the lip, tearing and smarting during motion.
When the disease is in the stomach, its indications are equally apparent There is a burning, corrosive and gnawing pain in the pit and region of the stomach, oppressive anguish, cutting and tearing pain, alternating with the corrosive and burning pain. Great prostration, vomiting of food and mucus, and aggravation of symptoms after a meal.
Nux-vom. is indicated in cancer of the stomach, where there are pressive griping or crampy sensations; oppression and sensation of constriction of the chest; nausea, belching up of sour or bitter fluid, constipation, palpitation of the heart and flatulence.
Mezerium will also be of benefit in this variety of cancer, where there are burning, corrosive pains in the stomach; sensation as if the food remained a long time undigested, and sometimes vomiting of blood.
Plumbum may produce relief, where there is obstinate constipation; vomiting without relief, consisting of greenish, blackish, or bitter substances, and paroxysms of burning, constrictive pains in the stomach.
A powder, or three globules, of the above remedies dry on the tongue, morning and night.
Aurum may be indicated in most forms of cancer, especially when not only the soft parts, but the bones are affected.
Polypi in the nose, which may degenerate into cancer; also pimples, scurfs, and ulcers high up in the nostrils and around the lips, accompanied with swelling, which by their long duration may end in cancer.
Silicea has been found of great benefit, when there are suppurating glandular swellings, scirrhous indurations, putrid spreading ulcers, scurfs and ulcers in the nose, on the lips, and face.
A powder, or three globules, dry on the tongue, every night.
The diet should be nourishing and easy of digestion. Meats and the more solid articles of food should be preferred to watery vegetables. The character of the food also must be guided in a great measure by the feelings of the patient, carefully avoiding those varieties, experience has proved injurious.