Tahlequah Daily Press

Features

October 8, 2013

Cancer treatments date back millennia

TAHLEQUAH — Modern treatments for cancer are the result of scientific discoveries made within the last couple of centuries, but cancer is not a new malady – and people have fought it throughout recorded history.

Humans have been aware of cancer for at least 3,500 years. The earliest documentation comes from Egyptian hieroglyphics dating to 1500 B.C.

A piece of papyrus tells of eight cases of breast tumors, which were excised and the wounds cauterized. It is also explained that the tumors are not treatable and must be removed. The early Egyptians might have been able to distinguish malignant tumors from benign, and blame for cancer fell on their gods.

The entomology of the word cancer begins with the Greek physician Hippocrates, for whom the Hippocratic oath taken by doctors is named. He called the tumors “karkinos,” and his writings indicate he believed the cause was excess “black bile” at the site of the tumor.

The belief that excess body fluid caused tumors persisted into the middle ages - the English called it “humour” - and beyond. A result was a treatment called blood-letting, practiced for thousands of years.

“Bile wasn’t just blamed for cancer,” said Kenneth Gibson, a doctor of osteopathic medicine for the NeoHealth clinic in Hulbert. “It could be blamed for almost anything. So leeches were attached or blood was dripped from the arm. As a treatment, it was almost always useless and potentially dangerous. You could die of a sore throat.”

A blood-letting might be performed by anybody - a monk, farmer or barber. George Washington underwent blood-letting shortly before his death in 1799. The practice did not fully fall out of favor with western medicine until the 19th Century.

In the 17th Century, the practice of autopsy produced tremendous leaps in understanding of the human body and its maladies. Recognition of the lymphatic system gave rise to the theory that cancer was caused by abnormal lymph function. It was also understood that early detection and surgical removal of a tumor might prevent the spread of cancer.

An account from France by a woman named Fanny Burney tells of a mastectomy performed in 1811 - her own. The procedure was effected by Napoleon’s surgeon, Baron Larrey. Her writing is graphic, for she was without anesthetic and conscious during the 20-minute surgery, except a couple of brief periods when she fainted.

“Yet - when the dreadful steel was plunged into my breast - cutting through veins - arteries - flesh - nerves - I needed no injunctions not to restrain my cries,” she wrote. “I began a scream that lasted unintermittingly during the whole time of the incision - & almost marvel that it rings not in my Ears still!”

Johannes Muller, a German pathologist, in 1838 proved that cancers are comprised of cells and proposed the cells arose from elements he called “blastema” between healthy tissues.

In the 1850s, the German doctor Rudolf Virchow, a Muller prodigy and pioneer in the study of cell function, identified leukemia cells using a microscope. Though some of his theories have since been disproved, his linking of cancer to cell behavior laid the foundation for modern understanding of the disease.

He also demonstrated that cells were created by other cells, and did not spontaneously spring into existence under certain conditions.

srowley@tahlequahdailypress.com

1
Text Only
Features
  • 22ndAmendment.jpg Presidential terms limited by 22nd Amendment

    The past 30 years have been marked by occasional grumbling from one American political party, and celebration from the other - depending on who occupies the White House - about the disqualification of a president after eight years of service.
    For much of the nation’s history, a presidency could last indefinitely.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • sg-Paperbacks.jpg Paperbacks still survive in the digital age

    In an era when mobile technology is always at hand, most people can access an electronic book at any time. Such literary luxuries weren’t widely available to previous generations until the dawn of the paperback book.
    Wednesday, July 30, is set as a day to celebrate the low-cost, portable book during National Paperback Book Day.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-skydiver-tomahawk.jpg Former resident tapped for national skydiving award

    A man known locally for putting Tahlequah on the international map by bringing world-class skydiving events to town is being inducted in the National Skydiving Museum Hall of Fame in October.
    Norman Heaton said he’s very honored to be selected for the prestigious award given to people who have made significant contributions to the sport of skydiving.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20th-Amendment.jpg Inauguration day changed by 20th Amendment

    Sometimes an amendment is added to the U.S. Constitution that is uncontroversial and virtually unlitigated.
    Such is the 20th Amendment, which moved the seating of the new Congress and the presidential inauguration day to January, and enumerates procedure if a president-elect dies or cannot take office.
    Because the “Lame-Duck Amendment” addresses procedure, it is long.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-School-Fashion.jpg Fashion show to feature local teachers

    A fun fashion event that will provide funds for one lucky area school is coming up next weekend.
    Local teachers and students have until Tuesday, July 22, to sign up for the Teacher and Student Back 2 School Fashion Show at Arrowhead Mall in Muskogee.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-actress.jpg TV’s ‘Mistresses’ has second local tie

    Tahlequah has at least two ties to the TV drama “Mistresses.”
    Local florist Josh Cottrell-Mannon designed the flower arrangements for the show’s season finale, and Arriane Alexander, daughter of local resident Sharilyn Young, is portraying a television news reporter.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-Stark-Sequoyah.jpg Stark enjoys making a difference

    Kristin Stark, Sequoyah Elementary Teacher of Year, loves teaching, and has a desire to make a positive difference in the lives of children.
    “I love making a difference in the lives of children; it is a wonderful feeling to make a positive impact on a child,” said Stark.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • sr-19thAmendment.jpg Women got the vote with 19th Amendment

    During its first 140 years, the United States Constitution underwent a series of changes intended to extend voting rights to those who were not white or didn’t own property - but as the American experiment entered the 20th Century, half the adult population still had no protection to vote.
    Though they certainly had political opinions, women could not cast a ballot in most states. That changed with passage of the 19th Amendment.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • renee-storyteller.jpg Cherokee, Tlingit storytellers to share their craft during special NSU event

    Two Native American cultures will be represented during a storytelling workshop featuring Cherokee Gayle Ross and Tlingit and Cherokee dancer and storyteller Gene Tagaban, of Seattle.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 1-ts CN opt 1.jpg Cherokees commemorate Act of Union

    Cherokee Nation dignitaries met on the historic courthouse square Tuesday to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Act of Union following the end of the Trail of Tears Removal.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Stocks