Babe Ruth’s Pioneering Medical Treatment History

Hollywood Reporter

Everyone knows Babe Ruth as one of the greatest players in MLB history and certainly one of the game’s most recognizable faces, over a century after he first started playing.

But, Ruth is also being noted for the pioneering cancer treatment he underwent during the final years of his life.

The amazing story is being told over at Popular Science, where it is told that Ruth was likely the first cancer patient to receive chemotherapy, which had only been developed a few years prior and which had only been tested on lab mice.

Naturally there is some ethical questions as Ruth was given treatment that only someone of his stature and fame could afford and Ruth was using relatively untested treatments in humans.

Here is a snippet from the article:

Miraculously, the drug worked. At least for a short time. Ruth started daily injections on June 29, 1947. In short order, Bikhazi reports, he gained back some of the weight he’d lost, reported less pain, and was finally able to swallow solid food. He continued chemotherapy for about six weeks and various radiation treatments for another year, as doctors cast about in search of a permanent cure. They never found one, and Ruth ultimately died of cancer on August 16, 1948, at the age of 53. But in the process of that trial and error treatment, Bikhazi reports, Ruth became perhaps the first patient to receive sequential radiation and chemotherapy. Now called “chemo-beamo,” this two-pronged approach is standard treatment for many cancers today.

This is one amazing story that probably won’t dominate the headlines, but is sure to provide an interesting read as you start your week.


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