Stephen Paget

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Stephen Paget
Portrait of Stephen Paget reading a newspaper
Known for"Seed and soil" theory
Scientific career

Stephen Paget (1855 – 1926) was an English surgeon who proposed the "seed and soil" theory of metastasis, which claims the distribution of cancers are not coincidental. He was the son of the distinguished surgeon and pathologist Sir James Paget.[1]


Proposed theory[edit]

Paget has long been credited with proposing the "seed and soil" theory of metastasis, even though in his paper "The Distribution Of Secondary Growths In Cancer Of The Breast" [2] he clearly states "…the chief advocate of this theory of the relation between the embolus and the tissues which receive it is Fuchs…".[3] Ernst Fuchs (1851-1930) an Austrian ophthalmologist, physician and researcher however, doesn't refer to the phenomenon as "seed and soil", but defines it as a "predisposition" of an organ to be the recipient of specific growths. In his paper, Paget presents and analyzes 735 fatal cases of breast cancer, complete with autopsy, as well as many other cancer cases from the literature and argues that the distribution of metastases cannot be due to chance, concluding that although "the best work in pathology of cancer is done by those who… are studying the nature of the seed…" [the cancer cell], the "observations of the properties of the soil" [the secondary organ] "may also be useful..."

Approbation of Louis Pasteur[edit]

In addition to other publications, he also wrote a book about Louis Pasteur titled Pasteur and After Pasteur while holding the position of Honorable Secretary of the Research Defence Society. Pasteur's life is discussed from his early life through his accomplishments. Stephen Paget wrote this book in memoriam of Pasteur's life, and in the preface he states, "It has been arranged to publish this manual on September 28th, the day of Pasteur's death. That is a day which all physicians and surgeons -- and not they alone -- ought to mark on their calendars; and it falls this year with special significance to us, now that his country and ours are fighting side by side to bring back the world's peace."[4]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Experiments on Animals. 1888. 3rd edition. 1907.
  • John Hunter, Man of Science and Surgeon, 1728-1793. 1897.
  • Ambroise Paré and his times, 1510-1590. 1897.
  • I Have Reason to Believe. 1902.
  • Confessio Medici. 1908.
  • The Faith and Works of Christian Science. 1909.
  • I Wonder: Essays for the Young People. 1911.
  • Pasteur and After Pasteur. 1914.
  • Essays for Boys and Girls: A First Guide Toward the Study of the War. 1915.
  • I Sometimes Think: Essays for the Young People. 1916.
  • Sir Victor Horsley: A Study of His Life and Work. 1919.
  • Henry Scott Holland: Memoir and Letters. 1921.


  1. ^ Henry Robert Addison; Charles Henry Oakes; William John Lawson; Douglas Brooke Wheelton Sladen (1907). "PAGET, Stephen". Who's Who. A. & C. Black. 59: 1351.
  2. ^ The Lancet, Volume 133, Issue 3421, 23 March 1889, Pages 571-573
  3. ^ Ernst Fuchs, Das Sarkom des Uvealtractus, Wien, 1882. Graefe's Archiv für Ophthalmologie, XII, 2, p. 233.
  4. ^ Stephen Paget (1914). "Pasteur and After Pasteur". A. & C. Black: 152, .

External links[edit]