In November 1952, cardiologist Paul Zoll published an early report on resuscitation of the heart. "The purpose of this report is to describe the successful use in 2 patients of a quick, simple, effective and safe method of arousing the heart from ventricular standstill by an artificial, external, electric pacemaker," he wrote. "For the first time it was possible to keep a patient alive during ventricular asystole lasting for hours to days. This procedure may prove valuable in many clinical situations."[12]
In June 1948, Sidney Farber reported promising results in treatment of early childhood leukemia. Based on anecdotal evidence that children with acute leukemia worsened if they were given folic acid, he worked on blocking folic acid metabolism. His team gave 16 infants and children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia a folic acid inhibitor, aminopterin—10 showed improvement by clinical and hematologic parameters after three months.[11] In his article, Farber advised receiving the results cautiously: "It is again emphasized that these remissions are temporary in character and that the substance is toxic and may be productive of even greater disturbances than have been encountered so far in our studies," he wrote. "No evidence has been mentioned in this report that would justify the suggestion of the term 'cure' of acute leukemia in children."
xColorectal cancer (CRC) is common, affecting >40,000 people a year in the UK. Most cancers are sporadic but a few, such as those occurring at a younger age, have a clear genetic basis. Most are situated in the rectum or rectosigmoid and cause rectal bleeding, often with a looser or more frequent stool. Right-sided cancers typically result in anaemia, because the blood in the stool is occult and unnoticed by the patient. Almost all symptoms of malignancy can also be caused by benign disease. Diagnosis relies on luminal imaging, with colonoscopy being the gold standard.
xColorectal cancer is common with a lifetime risk of 5% and remains the second most common cause of cancer death, with low 5-year survival (55%). Early detection through bowel screening and surveillance of high-risk groups aims to identify early disease. Specialist surgery, despite the associated morbidity and mortality, offers the best chance of cure. Isolated multiorgan metastatic disease is increasingly resected, with good results. This article summarizes management of colorectal cancer, with a focus on early rectal and polyp cancers, which can pose management dilemmas.
In September 1811, John Collins Warren, a Boston physician,[2] along with James Jackson, submitted a formal prospectus to establish the New England Journal of Medicine and Surgery and Collateral Branches of Science as a medical and philosophical journal.[3] Subsequently, the first issue of the New England Journal of Medicine and Surgery and the Collateral Branches of Medical Science was published in January 1812.[4] The journal was published quarterly.
In November 1846, Henry Jacob Bigelow, a Boston surgeon, reported a breakthrough in the search for surgical anesthetics with the first uses of inhaled ether in 1846. This allowed patients to remain sedated during operations ranging from dental extraction to amputation.[8] "A patient has been rendered completely insensible during an amputation of the thigh, regain consciousness after a short interval," Bigelow wrote. "Other severe operations have been performed without the knowledge of the patients."
In the early 2000s, the New England Journal of Medicine was involved in a controversy around problems with research on the drug Vioxx. A study was published in the journal in November 2000 which noted an increase in myocardial infarction amongst those taking Vioxx.[27] According to Richard Smith, the former editor of the British Medical Journal, concerns about the correctness of that study were raised with the journal's editor, Jeff Drazen, as early as August 2001. That year, both the US Food and Drug Administration and the Journal of the American Medical Association also cast doubt on the validity of the data interpretation that had been published in the NEJM.[28] Merck withdrew the drug from market in September 2004. In December 2005, NEJM published an expression of concern about the original study following discovery that the authors knew more about certain adverse events than they disclosed at the time of publication. From the Expression of Concern: "Until the end of November 2005, we believed that these were late events that were not known to the authors in time to be included in the article published in the Journal on November 23, 2000. It now appears, however, from a memorandum dated July 5, 2000, that was obtained by subpoena in the Vioxx litigation and made available to the Journal, that at least two of the authors knew about the three additional myocardial infarctions at least two weeks before the authors submitted the first of two revisions and 4 1/2 months before publication of the article."[29] During the five-year period between publication and Expression of Concern, it has been estimated that Merck paid NEJM as much as US$836,000 for article reprints that Merck used for promotional purposes.[30] The journal was publicly rebuked for its response to the research issues in editorials appearing in publications including the British Medical Journal[28] and the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.[31]