Huggins was a specialist on the male urological and genital tract.
In the early 1940s he found he could retard the growth of prostate cancer
by blocking the action of the patient's male hormones with doses of
the female hormone estrogen. This research demonstrated that some cancer
cells, like normal body cells, are dependent on hormonal signals to
survive and grow and that, by depriving cancer cells of the correct
signals, the growth of tumours could be slowed down, at least temporarily.
In 1951 Huggins showed that breast cancers are also dependent on specific
hormones. By removing the ovaries and adrenal glands, which are the
source of estrogen, he could achieve significant tumour regression in
some of his patients. Owing to his work, drugs that block the body's
production of estrogen became important resources in treating breast
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