Saturday, September 13, 2014

History of Cancer: A Time-Bound Tale

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By Dr. Rajiv Jena

—Earliest evidence of cancer-found among fossilized bone tumors, human mummies in ancient Egypt, and ancient manuscripts.

—Earliest known descriptions of cancer -appear in 7 papyri from Egypt.Two of them, the "Edwin Smith" and "George Ebers" papyri, were written around 1600 B.C., and are believed to date from sources as early as 2500 B.C.

—Hippocrates(ca. 460 BC – ca. 370 BC) described several kinds of cancer, referring to them with the Greek word carcinos (crab or crayfish).

—Celsus(ca. 25 BC - 50 AD) translated carcinos into the Latin cancer, also meaning crab.

—Galen(2nd century AD) called benign tumours oncos, Greek for swelling, reserving Hippocrates' carcinos for malignant tumours. He later added the suffix -oma, Greek for swelling, giving the name carcinoma.

—1761- Giovanni Morgagni of Padua-first to do autopsies to relate the patient’s illness to pathologic findings after death.Foundation for scientific oncology.

—Famous Scottish surgeon John Hunter (1728-1793) suggested surgery as a treatment of cancer and described how the surgeon might decide which cancers to operate on.

—A century later the development of anesthesia allowed surgery to flourish and classic cancer operations such as the radical mastectomy were developed.

—The 19th century saw the birth of scientific oncology with use of the modern microscope in studying diseased tissues. Rudolf Virchow correlated microscopic pathology to illness.

—Body tissues removed by the surgeon could now be examined and a precise diagnosis could be made.

—The pathologist could also tell the surgeon whether the operation had completely removed the cancer.

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