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Serbian Fight Against Cancer in 1930


“Recently, there has been a fear of vicious cancer in our entire public, and there is a growing belief in the public that cancer patients are doomed to certain death in advance. However, if you go to the General State Hospital, to the X-ray department, you will see how many patients are being treated for cancer there every day, how many of them have been successfully treated, and how many have actually been cured. “

This is how the article from Politika from 1930 begins, under the simple title “Fighting Cancer”.

Most people consider cancer a “disease of the modern age”, a disease whose expansion can be traced to the last decades of the 20th century and especially to the 21st century, but that is not true! Some doctors speculate that malignant tumors killed people in the Middle Ages, and an Italian surgeon went so far as to claim that Rembrandt painted a woman suffering from breast cancer in one of his paintings.

Even if we ignore the speculations, this old text from Politika gives an insight into how Serbs used to be treated for this brick disease.

The former Politika also reveals statistics to us – annually, 1000 patients passed through this department of the Belgrade hospital, of which slightly less than half suffered from cancer – eight to ten a week. As for examinations, there were about 5,000 of them a year.

– As early as the beginning of 1924, the Ministry of Public Health procured two large, at that time the most perfect, X-ray radiation devices at the expense of reparations. The department immediately started treating patients with X-rays, and most of them were cancer patients. Later, in the middle of 1927, the Ministry of Public Health acquired another device, the so-called “stablevolt device”, which today still represents the last scientific invention for treatment with X-rays – the text states.

The author further describes the waiting room in which patients spend time until it is their turn to be irradiated – there are men and women, townspeople, and people from the village, young and old…

– It is usually thought, says the head of the X-ray department, Mr. Dr. Sava Janković, that cancer is a disease of later years. However, I had a 23-year-old woman in the ward who was suffering from cancer… Of all the internal diseases, we had the most success with uterine cancer. The happiest are those cases that can still be operated on, and then completely healed by radiation – this former Belgrade doctor tells the story for old Politika.

The text also states this – “treatment at the radiology department is free for the poor, but wealthier patients are also treated and they pay 40 to 600 dinars for radiation, depending on their financial situation and X-ray consumption.”




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