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Vital Signs


In this section, we highlight tidbits from past issues of the magazine. These messages from yesteryear remind us of the pace of change as well as of some timeless truths.

From the Fall 1981 issue

This magazine was just five years old, and Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center not yet 10 years old, when the magazine published its first feature about cancer. We've run dozens more features about cancer research and cancer care in the 22 years since then—including one in this issue, which makes it timely to share an excerpt from that first such piece:

Three people were key to the creation of Dartmouth's Cancer Center —from the left, U.S. Senator Norris Cotton, Dr. Ross McIntyre, and Dr. Frank Lane. They're pictured reviewing plans for a 1977 addition.

"New Hampshire had one of the highest cancer death rates in the country in 1970. Yet New Hampshire's cancer incidence was no higher than the national average. . . . Extensive analysis, done in the late 1960s, pinpointed inadequate cancer-treatment facilities and a need for more oncologists as being possible reasons for New Hampshire's high cancer death rate."

The article explained that three key individuals (pictured below), plus two federal grants, brought about the 1972 establishment of the Cancer Center and an expansion in 1977.

"Cancer no longer invariably kills," the article went on. "More and more cancer patients across the nation are surviving— and leading active, productive lives. The change has been dramatic: As recently as 25 years ago, fewer than one in four survived the disease; now, about one of every two can be cured or at least gain a prolonged disease-free period."

That 1981 feature was written by Katharine Phillips—a 1977 graduate of Dartmouth College who was then the communications coordinator for the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. Phillips came to be so intrigued by medicine that a few years later she applied to DMS, was accepted, and graduated in 1987. Today, she is a professor of psychiatry at Brown Medical School.

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