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[Editorial] Prophesying in surgery

Predicting the future is a human preoccupation but not one without risks. Predictions tend to expand on current trajectories, missing the big disrupters and barriers, and rendering them inaccurate. In 1930, The Lancet published an editorial on the future of surgery discussing the forecasts of A F Hurst, a surgeon at Guy’s Hospital, who had recently published his deliberations in the hospital gazette. He considered cancer and gallstones were likely to be “only a very small problem to the future surgeon” and was convinced that the prevention of cancer would be in sight within 25 years.

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