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Biographical entry Way, Stanley Albert (1913 - 1988)

MRCS 1936; FRCS by election 1974; MRCOG 1940; FRCOG 1953; LRCP 1936.

16 January 1913
23 July 1988
Gynaecologist and Histopathologist


Stanley Way was born in Portsmouth on 16 January 1913, the son of a naval officer and after early education entered the Middlesex Hospital for his clinical studies, qualifying in 1936. During his early years he was greatly influenced by the example of Victor Bonney and acquired a lifelong interest in the early diagnosis and radical treatment of gynaecological cancer. In 1938, shortly after his marriage to Ruth Noble, he moved to Newcastle-upon-Tyne to a junior post in the Royal Victoria Infirmary and within two years had passed the MRCOG examination. During the war years medical reasons prevented him from serving in the Royal Navy but he continued to shoulder heavy clinical responsibilities as registrar at the Royal Infirmary and Princess Mary Maternity Hospital. At the end of the war he moved briefly to Shotley Bridge General Hospital before being appointed consultant in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead, in 1947.

In 1948 he visited Dr George N Papanicolaou's laboratory in the United States in order to learn the basic techniques of cervical cytology, which he subsequently introduced into his own unit at Gateshead. He became a competent and meticulous histopathologist, often examining fifty or more sections before expressing an opinion. He converted a vacant nurses' home in the hospital into a thirty bed gynaecological ward using money raised by charitable subscriptions and pioneered a radical approach to cervical and vulval carcinoma. His study of the lymphatic drainage of the vulva pointed to the need for extensive vulvectomy and bilateral inguinal lymph node excision. In the management of cervical carcinoma in situ he routinely removed the upper third of the vagina in continuity with the uterus, stressing that if sufficient sections of the vagina were examined, tumour cells would be found in over twenty per cent. He introduced an oncology service, the first of its kind in the United Kingdom, and this service subsequently became a regional centre for the investigation and management of gynaecological malignancies.

He was awarded many honours including a Hunterian Professorship delivered on 13 February 1948 on the anatomy of the lymphatic drainage of the vulva and its influence on the radical operation for carcinoma, the Blair Bell Lectureship of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1948 and the Bernhard Baron Travelling Research Scholarship. He was Victor Bonney Prizeman in 1964 to 1966, elected to the Fellowship of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1953 and of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1974. He was also elected an Honorary Fellow of the American Association of Gynaecology and Obstetrics and the International Association of Cytology. Like so many great physicians and surgeons he was a serious critic of his colleagues and their work when it failed to meet his standards. This was always in a positive and constructive way and never intended to cause offence. As well as contributing to gynaecology, he introduced a breast screening clinic for examination and mammography, developing the first breast cancer detection programme in the United Kingdom many years before the need for such services were recognised. He retired from hospital practice in 1978.

His outside interests were cricket and music and he was an accomplished organ player. He died after a long illness on 23 July 1988, aged 75, and is survived by his wife, his son Bernard who is a consultant surgeon and his daughter Elizabeth.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 3 August 1988; Independent 8 August 1988; Brit med J 1988, 297, 550 and 915; Lancet 1988, 2, 463; Trans Amer Gynecol and Obstet Soc 1988, 7, 103].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England