Cancer- the Silent Killer

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Cancer-The Silent Killer

Kimberly Hansen

COM/156

12/15/2012

Holly Overturf

This year alone, approximately 1 million people will die from cancer. It is one of the leading causes of death in the world, second only to heart disease. According to the American Cancer Society (2012) states that 1 out of 2 men and 1 out of 3 women will get cancer. In a world as medically advanced as ours, one would think that we would already have the upper hand where this disease is concerned, and have a cure-- but we don’t. According to “What is Cancer?” website n.d. “defined Cancer as not just one disease but many diseases in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and form tumors”. These tumors can either be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Crosta, P. (2006r, October 4) explains that once this happens the tumors have the ability to invade other issues and organs. When the abnormal cells form tumors and start traveling from one part of the body to another, it is referred to as metastasis. Additional symptoms may appear and will depend on the area of the body where the cancer has spread. For example, if the cancer spread to the liver, the liver may become enlarged and jaundice may set in. Also the bones can become painful, brittle and break easily. Human cancer is as old as the human race with the oldest known documented case found in an ancient Egyptian papyri and occurred during 3000 BC to 1500 BC.. This report details 8 cases of tumors or ulcers of the breast that had to be removed by cauterization (which is a method for destroying something with a hot instrument called a ‘fire drill.) Unfortunately, there wasn’t much that could be done, only pallative treatment (relieving of symptoms of a disease without effecting a cure). It wasn’t until 1932 when Louis Leakey found the oldest possible malignant tumor in fossilized bones recovered in Egypt, and had features suggestive of Burkittts Lymphoma. (History of Cancer, n.d.).

The Medicine World website explains that Hippocrates (460 BC –370 BC) who was one of the most influential figures in the history of medicine. He was referred to as the Father of Western Medicine, and was the first to notice the differences between malignant and benign tumors. He noted that the blood vessels around a malignant tumor looked like crab claws, so he named them “karkinos (which is the Greek word for crab.) He used it to describe tumors that can progress in to ulceration. Hippocrates also believed the body was composed of 4 fluids; phlegm, blood, yellow bile and black bile, and black bile is what he believed to have caused cancer. This theory rang true for another until the 16th Century. Cancer was considered to be incurable, except for a menagarie of temporary fixes that included creams, ointments and pastes made from things like barley and pigs ear. (History of Cancer, n.d.) During the 17th Century, the lymphatic system was discovered, and from this we were sure to gain extreme knowledge of the lymphatic system and how it works, and if there are any abnormalities. In the 18th Century, physician Jean Astruc and Chemist Bernard who led the research that would either confirm or disprove theories related to the origins of cancer. John Hunter, a Scottish surgeon suggested that some cancers might be cured by surgery. In addition, he discussed various methods of checking to see if the tumors were moveable. One way was by checking to see if the tumor had invaded nearby tissues, if not then there was no harm in removing it. (History of Cancer, n.d.)

It was the 20th Century that brought the most progression in relation to cancer research; mainly because of the invention of better microscopes. Which were used in order for scientists to gain more knowledge about the cancer process. Not until the microscope was one able to see the noticeable difference between cancer cells and the surrounding...
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