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Campbell Grieg De Morgan (1811-76) Prepared by: Dr E Poon, 2000

Claim to Fame: Campbell de Morgan spots

Campbell de Morgan spots (syn: cherry angiomata, sessile angiomas) are common, vascular lesions found increasingly with age. Individual lesions are cherry red papules, generally measuring 1 to 4 mm in diameter, most often found on the trunk. They are of no significance but were thought by De Morgan to be an indicator of underlying malignancy.

Paper:

De Morgan C. The origin of cancer: considered with reference to the treatment of disease. London: J & A Churchill, 1874.

 

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Background:

Campbell De Morgan was a prominent surgeon at the Middlesex Hospital, London, in the 19th century. He was born in 1811 at Clovelly, Devonshire, England. The youngest of 3 sons of an Indian Army Colonel, he went on to study Medicine at University College and Middlesex Hospital, London. After attaining his MRCS at age 24 he became one of the original 300 Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1843. From 1843, he worked at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, lecturing on many subjects including anatomy, surgery, physiology, ophthalmology and forensic medicine. He developed a particular interest in malignant diseases and, in 1872, published an eighty-seven-page discussion on his thoughts on the origins of cancer (1). Within this article, he discussed the association between cancer and cherry angiomas, which he described as 'small outgrowths of warty, or vascular, or dermoid structure'.

De Morgan married and fathered three children. His daughter died when only a few months old, and his wife shortly thereafter. He was reputedly a deeply religious man who cared little for worldly possessions. Apart from his exceptional surgical proficiency, he possessed skills in music and drawing. In 1876, De Morgan, developed pneumonia and died.

References.

1. De Morgan C. The origin of cancer: considered with reference to the treatment of disease. London: J & A Churchill, 1874.

2. Rosser EM. Campbell De Morgan and his spots. Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England 1983; 65: 265-8.