Waddington (1935) and later Needham (1936) have suggested that the autonomy of tumours originates in a ‘morphological escape’ of tumour cells from the controlling influence of an individuation field which has locally become weak or has vanished. The persistence and strength of such an individuation field can be seen in its ability to induce its parts to regeneration (Ruben, 1955). This theory might be supported by the observation that in animals which are capable of regeneration, spontaneous tumours are rarely observed. Gersch (1951) compiled a list of all reports of spontaneous tumours throughout the whole animal kingdom and noted that in animals which regenerate well spontaneous tumour occurrence was low. Waddington and Needham suggested that degraded, that is ‘escaped’ cells, might be brought under control again if they were exposed to the influence of a particularly strong individuation field, e.g. the regeneration field of a regenerating urodele limb.

This content is only available via PDF.