Henry Khunrath Pancoast

Henry Khunrath Pancoast (1875 – 1939)

Henry Khunrath Pancoast (1875 – 1939) was an American radiologist.

The Pancoast tumour and Pancoast Syndrome are  named after him. First Professor of Radiology in America

Major work on studying the healthy chest; interpretation of silicosis, tuberculosis and pneumoconiosis X-ray; bismuth shadow interrogation of the intracraial lesions; radiotherapeutic intervention

Biography

  • Born in Philadelphia, USA on 26 February 1875 (father Dr Seth Pancoast)
  • 1892 – Graduated Friend’s Central School, Pennsylvania. Delayed plans to enter medical school due to the premature death of both his parents. Became a bank teller for 2 years and started Medical School in 1894 with no undergraduate premedical preparation
  • 1898 – Graduated medical school from the University of Pennsylvania
  • 1900 – Commenced surgical training Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
  • 1903 – Asked to join the Hospital ‘Roentgen Ray Department’ as a sciagrapher. He later remarked: “How easy it was in those days to become a radiologist by the shortest affirmative reply!
  • 1911 – First Professor of Roentgenology (Radiology) in the United States
  • 1915 – Use of radium to treat inoperable carcinoma, brain tumors, uterine hemorrhage, warts, and moles
  • Died on May 20 1939

Key Medical Attributions:


Major Publications

  • Pancoast HK. Importance of careful roentgen-ray investigation of apical chest tumors. Journal of the American Medical Association, Chicago, 1924, 83: 1407. [JAMA text]
  • Pancoast HK. Superior pulmonary sulcus tumor. Tumor characterised by pain, Horner’s syndrome, destruction of bone and atrophy of hand muscles. Journal of the American Medical Association,1932, 99: 1391-1396. [JAMA text]
  • Pancoast HK. The Head and Neck in Roentgen Diagnosis. Thomas 1942.

Controversies

  • Pancoast was not the first to describe the neoplasm or the associated syndrome associated with local invasion
  • British surgeon Edward Selleck Hare (1812-1838) first described in 1838.
  • Publio Ciuffini described lung apical tumor with local invasion in 1911.
  • Pancoast described three cases in 1924 and in 1932 described the tumor as a “superior pulmonary sulcus tumor”. Pancoast incorrectly described the tumors as ‘arsing from epitheleal rests of the 5th brachial cleft’.
  • J. W. Tobías correctly surmised the tumor site of origin as bronchopulmonary tissue in his 1932 publication

References

  • Pancoast HK. Importance of careful roentgen-ray investigation of apical chest tumors. Journal of the American Medical Association, Chicago, 1924, 83: 1407. [JAMA text]
  • Pancoast HK. Superior pulmonary sulcus tumor. Tumor characterised by pain, Horner’s syndrome, destruction of bone and atrophy of hand muscles. Journal of the American Medical Association,1932, 99: 1391-1396. [JAMA text]
  • Hare, ES. Tumor involving certain nerves. London Medical Gazette, 2nd series, 1838/39, 1: 16-18.
  • Tobías, JW. Sindrome ápico-costo-vertebral doloroso por tumor apexiano. Su valor diagnóstico en el cáncer primitivo pulmonare. Revista medica Latino-americana, Buenos Aires, 1932, 17: 1522-1557.
  • The Pancoast Era – University of Pennsylvania [PDF Full text]
  • Arcasoy, SM. Jett, JR. Superior Pulmonary Sulcus Tumors and Pancoast’s Syndrome N Engl J Med 1997; 337:1370-1376 [Full Text] [PMID 9358132]

Our Pancoast thinks everyone crazy 

Who works without skiagrams hazy,

In fact you would laugh

To hear the whole staff

Rave on as if they were X-rasy

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine – Scope Yearbook – 1912


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Emergency physician MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM with a passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and informatics. Asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | vocortex |

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