Cancer: A Deep Study Essay

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Cancer: A deep study through ages

Oncology is the study of cancer. It's a field in which numerous doctors and scientists have worked all across the world. Their work in chemistry, physiology, anatomy and epidemiology transformed oncology into what it is today. Oncology is the fastest developing field in science with cancer understanding and technological breakthroughs. It is a quickly developing medicinal field with huge prospects.

Cancer and its definition

Cancer starts developing in a human body when human cells spiral out of control. There are numerous forms of cancer and yet they all commence from abnormal growth of cells. In the United States of America, cancer is the second cause of most deaths. One third of women and one half of women will stimulate cancer in their lifecycle. In this modern era, many people are suffering from cancer and many have had cancer in the past (ASCO, 2009).

Cancer and ancient civilizations

Through recorded history, humans and even animals have suffered cancer. It's not a huge surprise; people have noted and observed cancer. The earliest forms of cancer are found in bone tumors fossilized. The Egyptian mummies had cancer and manuscripts also mention the same symptoms and effects. Osteosarcoma has been observed in bones. This growth suggests bone cancer. Moreover, neck and head cancer has been observed in form of bony skull destruction (ASCO, 2009)

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The oldest recorded form of cancer was found in Egypt which is as old as 3000 BC. The term cancer wasn't used for that matter. The description was found in Edwin Smith Papyrus and is a component of olden Egyptian book based on trauma surgery. It has noted down successfully eight cases of ulcers and tumors in breast. They were treated with cauterization by a tool known as fire drill. The diseases were finally written off as "Incurable" (ASCO, 2009).

The causes of cancer: A history

TOPIC: Essay on Cancer: A Deep Study Through Assignment

Cancer has confused, baffled and puzzled many an ancient physicians during the course of history. The Egyptians believed that the disease of cancer was primarily instiaged by gods as a form of wrath on them.

The humoral theory

Hippocrates thought a human body had four forms of body fluids namely:

Yellow bile


Black bile


A person was healthy when these four liquids coexisted in harmony. The belief was that misbalance could cause diseases. The excessive amount of black bile would stimulate cancer. The theory was accepted by the ancient Romans and taken in full regard by Galen's medical writings. They were unparalleled and unrivaled all through the middle ages. The writings remained in place for 1,300 years. During this dark period of time, the autopsies, studying human bodies, science and astronomy was banned for religious reasons, further hampering the research on cancer and related medical fields (ASCO, 2009).

The lymph theory

Among various other theories for the instigation of cancer, one of them was lymph. It was formed by a liquid in the body called lymph. Life was deemed as the movement of liquids in human body. It flowed in all parts of human body. Blood and lymph was the most imperative fluid in human body. Stahl and Hoffman thought that cancer was formed from fermentation and degenerating lymph's in terms of alkanet, acidity and density. The theory of lymph became limp with popularity. The Scottish surgeon in 1700's named John Hunter assumed that tumors came from lymph's secreted by blood continuously (ASCO 2009).

The theory of blastema

A German pathologist named Johannes Muller in 1838 showed that cancer consists of damaged cells and lymph was not the cause. He also assumed that cancerous cells were different from normal human cells. Muller thought that cancer cells came from elements such as blastema present in normal cells. Rudolph Virchow (1821-1902) was a popular German pathologist who came to the conclusion that cancer cells were derived from normal body cells too (ASCO, 2010).

The theory of chronic irritation

A practitioner named Virchow claimed that chronic irritation could probably cause cancer. He was wrong though that "cancer spreads like water." The German surgeon in 1860's named Karl Thiersch demonstrated that cancer usually spread by cancerous or malignant cells in the human body. The theory of unknown liquid was discarded (ASCO, 2010).

The trauma theory

As people and scientists began to understand cancer in the early late 1800's and 1900's, trauma was still thought to stimulate cancer. The belief was still propagated even though the experiment on lab animals failed wretchedly (ASCO, 2010).

Transmissible disease theory

Two doctors from Netherlands named Nicholas Tulp (1593?1674) and Zacutus Lusitani (1575?1642) came to the conclusion that cancer was transmissible. Their assumptions were made on breast cancer and studies on it. Tulp and Lusitani promoted the transmissible theory in 1652 and 1642. They assumed that cancer patients must be left alone and kept outside cities and prevent the spread of cancer everywhere (ASCO, 2010).

During the eighteenth and nineteenth century, people believed in dogmas that cancer was transmissible. In recorded history, France's cancer hospital was the first one to shift from city limits in 1779 as people thought it was contagious. The fact remains however that cancer in humans isn't contagious, there are agents which can stimulate cancer and elevate risks. They include parasites, viruses and bacteria (ASCO, 2010).

Cancer epidemiology

In the 18th century, there were three imperative observations that shot the cancer epidemiology to new heights. These are namely control of diseases, distribution and study of causes.

Then in 1713, an Italian doctor named Bernardino Ramazzini showed absence of cervical cancer and elevated presence in breast cancer in church nuns. Fingers were raised on their life of celibacy. The observation was apt, yet it assisted in finding the significance of hormones and identifying them. The alternations with pregnancy were also observed. The sexually transmitted infections were also taken in consideration and cancer risks were assimilated (Hajdu, part 1, 2011).

Percival Pott in 1775 from Saint Bartholomew Hospital, London explained cancer during chimney sweeping. He explained scrotum cancer which occurred due to soot gathering in scrotum's skin. More studies were done in this regard and many new occupational carcinogenic exposures were identified. Public health measures were taken for lessening a risk to cancer at workplace (Hajdu, part 1, 2011).

In 1620, a person named Thomas Venner from London warned about the hazardous effects of tobacco in his book released in 1620 titled Via Recta. He stated that "unhealthy usage of tobacco has a negative effect on brain as well as the eye. It weakens the limbs and heart." One and a half century later in 1761, tobacco was becoming quite popular as a recreational substance in those days, John Hill stated in his book called Cautions against the Immoderate Use of Snuff. These linkages and observations were the source of thorough research in cancer department in 1950's and 1960's. It clearly showed that smoking caused severe lung cancer and in turn promulgated the U.S. Surgeon General's report titled Smoking and Health in 1964 (Hajdu, part 1, 2011).

Epidemiologists are involved in finding the root causes of cancer such as tobacco, obesity and radiation. They are also busy in seeking ways to prevent cancer for instance devising a diet and a nice physical workout. The research is then sent to Public health departments for recommendations and implementations (Hajdu, part 1, 2011).

The molecular biologists are tasked with finding the causes of cancer and ways to prevent them. This enables them to work in molecular epidemiology. It's the study of genes and its interactions with external factors (Hajdu, part 1, 2011).

Cancer roots and modern science

Chemical and viral carcinogens

Two scientists at Tokyo University named Katsusaburo Yamagiwa as well as Koichi Ichikawa in 1915 transferred cancer in lab rabbits. It was the first experiment of its kind applying coal tar on rabbit's skin. At least one and a half century had passed when John Hill, a London clinician stated that tobacco was a carcinogen (a probable cause for cancer found in humans). Then, after few more decades of negligence, tobacco was found to the horror of many, as the primary source of chemical carcinogens for the mankind at large (Hajdu, part 1, 2011).

Today mankind stays off limits to substances which can cause cancer for instance: coal tar, benzene (a derivative), hydrocarbons, aniline (substance used in dye production), asbestos and few others. A variety of sources produce ironing radiation which includes our very own sun. It can cause cancer too. The government has taken a few steps in ensuring public awareness regarding cancer. These include:





Drinking water

Radiation (Hajdu, part 1, 2011).

In the year 1911, at Rockefeller Institute in New York City, a person named Peyton Rous found a new form of cancer known as sarcoma. It was present in chickens. It was later termed as Rous sarcoma virus. For his work in detecting a new breed of cancer he was bestowed with a Nobel Prize in 1968. Now many viruses are linked with human cancer which includes:

Infection… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Cancer: A Deep Study.  (2013, December 8).  Retrieved October 21, 2021, from

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