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Getting Better

To the Editors:

May I add a comment in support of Richard Horton’s critical review of James Le Fanu’s Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine [NYR, November 2]?

Is it really true, as Le Fanu claims, that medicine has declined?Not in my experience, for without it I would by now be dead several times over, but thanks to antibiotics, X-ray and ultrasound scans, open-heart surgery, a pacemaker, and radio therapy, I am still alive at eighty-six and fit for a full day’s work six days a week. High-tech medicine does work!

And there is more good news to come. Tumors grow only if they are permeated by arteries and veins that provide them with plenty of blood. Ways have recently been found to stop the growth of such blood vessels, which caused spectacular regression of tumors that had been induced in mice. If these remarkable results can be repeated in humans, then many now incurable cancers will become curable, and Dr. Le Fanu may come to regret the discouraging title of his book.

M.F. Perutz
Medical Research Council
Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Cambridge, England

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