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Author: Gerasim Mitrov


The story of cancer has been an enigma for the institute of medical sciences. This in not a joke but a reality, since the growth of atypical cells in the human organism has been a subject to many early observations and seldom has been able to be subjected to description or intervention, per se. Whatever the achievements of science, tumor diseases has been always a separate branch of knowledge - viz., difficult to diagnose and treat; also, modern preventive methods have made a shaky contribution to this discipline, no matter how optimistic human efforts has been for success.

We shall aim to give a short synopsis on cancer affairs in Bulgaria, mainly in a historical aspect and this book we are presenting from our booklist is a useful starting point. There is a lot of literature available on the subject in the international press, however we abstain from further references for the sake of incompleteness and incoherence of general knowledge.

First efforts to present some knowledge to the medical audience on the cancer problematic were made by Prof. S. Konsulov. The literature heritage of this prolific bulgarian scholar is still not explored in-depth; also, we gave some information on him in a previous material from the booklist. Here we wish to accentuate on his scholarly works on the problems of cancer. Our research have found the following contributions from S. Konsulov and published on the pages of the "Annual of Physico - Mathematical Sciences", Sofia University - namely, "On the theoretical explanation of treatment with temperature and its association with cancer" (1925-26); "On the problem of cancer and hormonal treatment" (1931-32); "The effect of salt water on tumor growth" (1934-35); "The biological importance of cachexia /weight loss/ in cancer disease" (1936-37). We are not going to comment on the scientific value of these articles, but they represent a clue to further research on this important bulgarian author.

Next step in elucidating the early development of cancer research in Bulgaria - namely, this has been contained in the works of another eminent bulgarian scholar from the past. This is Prof. A. Zlatatov and we have already made a short contribution to explaining his particular importance on science in Bulgaria. Unfortunately, the lifetime achievements of this versatile man were interrupted by an early incident death /i.e., he died of cancer in year 1936 at the midst of his vitality/. We have researched part of the archive from this scholar and have established that his interests in cancer disease date from as early as year 1929. The paper is titled as "Biochemistry of Zn /elemental Zink/ and the problem of tumor growth" and has been published in the "Annual of Medical Sciences", Sofia University. Two more articles exist from that author, which have been published separately in some nature-philosophical journals of less importance - viz., "Problems of cancer and the theory of Lakhovsky" (1932), this article deals with the work of french experimental scholar Lakhovsky as the latter tried electromagnetic inductance on cancer in mice and some hybrid plants; also, "Problems of cancer and bio-social analogues" (1936), this article has mainly an educative purpose but the author points out the importance of Ra or elemental Radium for the partial treatment of tumors. Asen Zlatarov dies on 12 December 1936, subsequently in the surgical wards as an attempt to alleviate his illness.

The final chapter from the pre-socialist history of cancer & medical care is written on the pages of the Bulgarian Medical Union /BMU/. This association has shown concern on any important issue of medical and social life in Bulgaria. On its congress from year 1928, it has been decided that a new clinical center with 20 /twenty/ beds should be established at the Department of Roentgenology, Medical Faculty of Sofia. This has been officially opened in year 1937, while it has been noted in newspapers that 200 milligrams of Radium have been bought for treatment purposes /i.e., at that time, this amount of radioactive substance was priced a colossal sum of 2 000 000 Lv/. The official records of this event are associated with the name of Dr. A. Sahatchiev, ipso facto.


Biographical Note: Dr. Andrei Sahatchiev /1883-1942/ is officially recognized as founding father of Bulgarian Roengenology. Although historical sources from that time are rather scanty, as pertaining to the work and organization of R-laboratories - viz., the name of that medical specialist is obviously instrumental to the establishment of first Dept. of R-graphie & Radiologie in the country. Dr. A. Sahatchiev has received his medical education in Montpelier, France and further specialization in Paris from 1910 to 1914. He was appointed Adjunct Professor at the Department of Pharmacology with Therapeutics in year 1920. For long periods of his academic carrier he has occupied mainly administrative positions - namely, Dean of Medical Faculty in 1928-29; 1935-36 and 1938-39. Member of well known international organizations ~ "Societe Francaise d'Electrotherapie et de Radiologie" and "Deutsche Roentgengesellschaft". Dr. A. Sahatchiev died of insult in year 1942.

Important Publications: R-graphie and therapy of the fibromioma uteri. - Godishnik na Meditzinski Facultet, vol. III (1923-24), pp. 1-16; Cancer prevention in our country and abroad. - Letopissi na BLS, 1930, pp. 610-623; R-graphie of primary forms of the lung cancer. - Godishnik na Meditzinski Facultet, vol. XIV (1934-35), pp. 597-609; etc.


Epilogue: As a whole, the efforts of the clinical community before the WWII were concentrated on the histological and pathological structure of tumor tissue, rather than on some effective means of prevention and treatment of cancer disease. These are issues that are not clearly revealed and even in the international literature from that time. We stop here for lack of concentration and enough clarity on the theme under debate.



Copyright 2006 by the author.