Which one is correct: 'Chemotherapy should be the first call of treatment for cancer' or Chemotherapy should be first call of treatment for cancer'?

  • 2
    I don't find the cited example idiomatic. I'd use either Chemotherapy should be the first choice for cancer treatment or Chemotherapy should be the first port of call for cancer treatment. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Dec 22 '17 at 14:14
  • Or "the first course of treatment". course - "3. countable noun [usually singular] - A course of action is an action or a series of actions that you can do in a particular situation." – user3169 Dec 22 '17 at 18:44

In that context, drop the if, and only if, first acts as a marker to enumerate a list, as it does in the following examples (emphasis, mine):

first ordinal number 2.2 Firstly; in the first place (used to introduce a main point or reason) ‘first, it is wrong that the victims should have no remedy’ - ODO

I don't think your example can be read that way. There, "first" isn't marking an element of a list, but instead acts to qualify call (or the noun phrase headed by call).

first ordinal number 1 Coming before all others in time or order; earliest; 1st. ‘It is hoped to have everything in order for the first performance at the end of November.’ - ODO

This usage is marked by a determiner before the word first. So in your example, retain the.

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