History of Cancer
Hippocrates (460 BC -
370 BC) is referred to as "the father of medicine." He proposed a cancer
cure based on the humor theory of four bodily fluids: black bile, yellow
bile, phlegm, and blood. According to the humor theory, if a patient's humor
became unbalanced, the patient developed cancer or other illnesses.
To rebalance the
patients' humor, treatment consisted of diet, bloodletting, or purging.
Surprisingly, humor-theory treatment remained popular until the 19th
century. The humor theory was later proven to be incorrect.
Surgery as a possible
cancer cure was described in the 1020s by Avicenna in "The Canon of
Medicine." He promoted the surgical removal of diseased body parts or
tissues. In the 16th and 17th centuries, more doctors dissected bodies to
discover the cause of death.
Between 1871 and 1874,
English surgeon Campbell De Morgan formulated that cancer spreads from a
tumor to other body areas. Nevertheless, using surgery to cure cancer had
poor results due to hygienic problems of that time period.
improvement, surgery eventually became an effective cancer cure for
early-stage cancer. But the later the cancer stage, the less effective
surgery became. And cancer sometimes returned despite surgery.
At the end of the 19th
century, Marie and Pierre Curie, of France, found radiation to be a possible
non-surgical cancer cure. Surgeons began working with radiologists,
improving cancer-cure results. But radiation's effectiveness depended on the
In the 1940s, several
patients with advanced cancer of the white blood cells were given mustard
gas intravenously rather than nasally. The patients improved remarkably -
but temporarily. Researchers began searching for other anticancer
substances, giving birth to chemotherapy.