What is cancer? History of discovery and treatment methods

in StemSocial2 months ago (edited)

The word cancer is derived from the Latin word crab. The term cancer was used to denote a group of diseases. New cells are always created in the human body and after a certain time they are destroyed. We call this condition normal. Normal cells divide in a controlled manner to form new cells. But when these cells grow out of control, they form lumps of flesh that we call tumors. These tumors can be of two types. Such as 1. Benign 2. Malignant. Among them, malignant tumor is called cancer.

Cancer cells source

We know that the body of all the animals in the world is made up of many small cells. These small cells again have a nucleus. These nucleases contain DNA. Abnormal changes in DNA cause cancer. Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have released a report on cancer research. Their research proves that random, unpredictable DNA copying mistakes, which account for nearly two-thirds of the mutations that cause cancer. Cristian Tomasetti, Ph.D., assistant professor of biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center says

It is well-known that we must avoid environmental factors such as smoking to decrease our risk of getting cancer. But it is not as well-known that each time a normal cell divides and copies its DNA to produce two new cells, it makes multiple mistakes. source


The researchers also said that many people will still develop cancers due to these random DNA copying errors. People can prevent approximately 40 percent of cancers by changing their perception and unhealthy environment. It is imperative that people avoid bad habits like smoking.

However, between the two types of tumors, benign tumor cells cannot penetrate the surrounding tissue, so this tumor is not called cancer. Malignant tumors can invade surrounding tissue and spread to other parts of the body. So this tumor is called cancer. But the sad thing is that some cells in many benign tumors change and transform into malignant tumors. The good news is that there is no guarantee that a benign tumor will turn into cancer. Although benign tumors are silent, they can pressurize and damage the surrounding tissue. In the first stage of cancer, its cells penetrate other tissues and spread throughout the body through the blood, lymphatic system, etc

History of Cancer Discovery

Cancer is an ancient disease. People have been suffering from cancer for thousands of years. The world's oldest document on cancer comes from ancient Egypt, written in 1500 BC. This document refers to a tumor found in the breast which we now call breast cancer. The document describes a hot device called a "fire drill" used to treat cancer by destroying tissue.

[The Edwin Smith Papyrus documents ancient Egyptian medicine, including the diagnosis and treatment of injuries.source]

In ancient Greece, Hippocrates did not know much about the human body. For this reason they believed that the body contained four fluids, these are blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. They believed that excess black bile in one part of the body caused cancer, and this belief persisted for the next 1400 years.

William Harvey source

In 1628, a doctor named William Harvey was a prominent figure in medical science. He began performing autopsies to learn more about the inside of the body and how it worked, and was largely successful. He tried to force the blood into the forehead vein but was unsuccessful. When he tried to push the blood into the arm, the blood flowed away easily. Thus Harvey discovered the blood transfusion system. He proved that venous blood flows to the heart. He also proved that valves in the body allow blood to flow unidirectionally. This type of discovery by William Harvey opened the door to further research on various diseases.

In the 17th century, the lymphatic system was discovered. The lymphatic system is a network of tissues, vessels, and organs that work together to move lymph. Lymph is a colorless watery fluid. This time gave rise to new ideas about cancer. It is then thought that problems in this part of the body can lead to cancer. But that thought soon changed.

In the 19th century, a physician named Rudolf Virchow discovered the process of making cells from cells. We know this to this day because it was correct. So far, medical science has improved tremendously.

Even in the 19th century, doctors had misconceptions about cancer. They used to think that cancer spreads like a liquid. But it's time to get out of the misconceptions

A German surgeon named Karl Thiersch proved that cancer spread around the body through malignant cells. He was the first person able to prove the source of cancer. He is to be commended for the information he has provided. In this way, it becomes possible to know where the cancer originates from and how the cancer spreads. In the 20th century, various treatment methods for cancer began to be discovered.

Early cancer treatment was through surgery. In 1882, the first Radical Mastectomy (which is a type of surgery) to treat breast cancer. A doctor named William Halsted was the first to perform this type of surgery.

In 1919, Dr Eward Krumbhaar first reported his observations of the effects of mustard gas on blood cells and bone marrow. He was observing patients. He realized at that time that while the application of mustard gas was accompanied by an increase in the total white blood cell count in the initial clinical course of these patients, those who survived for several days had a profound decrease in the blood cell count as a result of the mustard gas. A team of doctors then made observations that confirmed that lymphomas in experimental animals were greatly reduced in size when exposed to mustard gas. This observation by doctors ushered in the era of cancer chemotherapy.

In 1896, a physician named Victor Despeignes first tried X-ray treatment, a form of radiation therapy. He used this treatment method on a patient with stomach cancer. His treatment reduced the pain and reduced the size of the tumor. But the case was ultimately fatal due to the harmful effects of strong radiation. However later this treatment method is being used with success and many improvements have been made.

Cancer treatment


Surgery is the most commonly used method to remove cancer. In this case, the cancerous area and surrounding cells are surgically removed. This type of treatment is given if the cancer is in the early stage. Tumor removal usually requires a larger cut than a biopsy. Sometimes, a less invasive surgical alternative called laparoscopic surgery or robotic surgery is used to remove the tumor, which is usually less painful and has a faster recovery.



As particle science advances, medical procedures continue to improve. Radiation therapy is a practical example of this. Cancer cells are destroyed by radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses high-energy particles or waves in medical procedures. The names of these waves are X-rays, gamma rays, electron beams. External beam therapy is the most commonly used form of radiation therapy treatment. Controlled radiation is applied to cancerous areas of the body to destroy the cells


Chemotherapy Cancer treatment systems use anti-cancer drugs that are cytotoxic to destroy cancer cells. Cytotoxic is a kind of substance that kills cancer cells. There are more than 100 types of chemotherapy drugs. Some of the drugs are taken as tablets or capsules, and in most cases these drugs are given into the blood with saline or through injections. These drugs are transported in the blood and these drugs go to where the cancer cells are in the body and destroy the cancer cells.

Hormone therapy

There are some types of cancer that are fueled by hormones, such as some prostate and breast cancers. Hormone therapy treatments work by changing the levels of certain hormones in the body. This type of treatment is effected by increasing or decreasing hormone levels. As a result, cancer can be successfully controlled in many areas by reducing the growth of cancer cells. Estrogen hormone helps cancer cells to grow so by reducing the level of this hormone, cancer cell growth is reduced. Hormone therapy is also called hormone therapy or endocrine therapy


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