2. The History Of Cancer
Cancer is a disease of civilization. And yet it is a very old disease. Several million years ago a dinosaur could be found with bone cancer, as fossilized remains discovered in Wyoming have shown. Perhaps other forms of cancer existed in those remote times, but bones are the only remains of extinct animals and therefore give a record of bone cancer alone.
Cancer in the ancestral species of man is more than a million years old. Some traces of it have been found in an anthropoid unearthed in Java in 1891. In antiquity the oldest evidences of cancer are Egyptian and Indian. Bone cancer is identifiable in some mummies discovered in the Great Pyramid of Gizeh. The Edwin Papyrus (2500 B.C.), the Leyde Papyrus (1500 B.C.), and the Ebers Papyrus (1500 B.C.) describe symptoms of cancer and primitive forms of treatment, such as the use of the knife. From the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, we learn that arsenic pastes were administered as long ago as 500 B.C. as a treatment for cancerous growth. Writings attributed to Hippocrates (about 400 B.C.) describe many forms of the disease, among them cancer of the breast, uterus, stomach, skin, and rectum. From him we have inherited the term carcinoma (Greek karkinos, crab—the great veins sometimes surrounding the malady were compared to the claws of a crab). But treatment in those days were crude, employing caustic pastes and cautery, although Hippocrates had the wisdom to advocate no treatment for what he called accult cancer and which would nowadays be called deep-seated cancer.
Hippocrates set forth the humoral theory of disease, which was to form an integral part of medical history for centuries. According to him there were four humors—blood (from the heart), phlegm (from the head), yellow bile (from the liver), and black bile (from the spleen). If the four elements were not properly balanced, bodily health would be impaired and illness would appear. Hippocrates believed that the black bile was mainly responsible for cancer. His theory of humors, although erroneous, demonstrated clearly his certainty that illness originated within the body, in contrast to beliefs in the magical, diabolical, or divine interference with human health.
In the first century A.D., the Roman physician, Aurelius Cornelius Celsus, was the first to operate on cancer, and, during the operation, to ligate blood vessels. He knew about the invasion of distant sites by original cancer cells. He described the appearance of secondary tumors after the primary one had been removed, and he was aware that certain tumors were painless and silent until they grew large enough to ulcerate.
Galen advocated the black bile theory of cancer, and his considerable influence blocked discoveries about the nature of the disease until after the Renaissance. Nevertheless he was the first to correlate psychosomatic problems and emotions with an understanding of cancer. In his treatise on tumors he wrote that melancholic women are more prone to breast cancer than sanguine women.
Arabian physicians of the twelfth century, Avenzoar and Averrhoes, used esophageal sounds to diagnose cancer of the throat and to improve bleeding of patients whose esophagus was obstructed by cancer. Their clinical description of stomach and esophageal cancer is accurate. Another surgeon of the Renaissance, Fallopius (1523-1562), used caustic pastes instead of surgery in the treatment of cancer. It is perhaps worthy of note that there has been a return to this crude use of caustic pastes, as in the method of chemosurgery advocated by Dr. Frederic Edward Mohs in certain cases of face, head, and neck cancer.
The difference between benign and malignant tumors was clarified shortly after Hildanaus’s time by Marcus Arelius Severinus. In the eighteenth century the first cancer hospital was founded in Reims, France. At that time cancer was considered to be contagious and persons sick with various forms of the disease were avoided like lepers.
Discoveries were made in many directions during the latter part of the eighteenth century. The first experiments in animals were begun. Occupational cancer, in the form of scrotal cancer of chimney sweeps, was described (1775) by Percivall Potts.
Advanced knowledge in pathology came through the work of John Hunter, Rene Laennec, and Marie Francois Bichat, who espoused a concept of cells as basic units of tumors. The French gynecologist, Joseph Recamier, who spoke of generalized cancer, described invasion of the bloodstream by cancer cells. It was he who coined the term mestastasis to describe the establishment of secondary cancer centers in the body as a result of the, transportation of cancer cells by lymph and blood.
Toward the end of the nineteenth century in Germany, Christian Billroth, Alexander von Winiwater, Wilhelm Freund, Themistokles Gluck and others began to perform cancer operations on a larger scale than ever before. Hysterectomy and laryngectomy became common.
Early in the twentieth century the American surgeon, William Halsted, set forth his surgical principle in the treatment of cancer, namely, that the lesion, together with the regional lymph nodes, should be removed in an attempt to prevent metastases. This principle is best illustrated in his radical mastectomy operation for cancer of the breast. His method is still widely practiced today and is responsible for the unnecessary mutilation of many women.
In 1895, Roentgen discovered some unknown rays which were to become very widely used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. As he was working in his laboratory, experimenting with a vacuum tube through which an electric current passed, he noticed that a nearly piece of paper coated with barium platino-cyanide was giving out an unexpected glow. He placed different materials between the vacuum tube and the treated paper and found that some substances stopped the glow while others did not. He had the proof that certain rays emanated from the vacuum tube, and that denser materials interrupted them but lighter ones did not. The rays are sometimes known as roentgen rays, but more often by the name he gave them, X rays.
Three years later, the two French scientists, Pierre and Marie Curie, made another discovery when they found a new element in the ore pitchblende, which had already yielded uranium. This element they named radium. They found that the radiations emitted by radium are much more intense than those which uranium was already known to discharge. Mane Curie was also the first victim of the study of radium, which kills but never heals. She developed anemia form protracted exposure incident to her long years of research with this radioactive element.
Both X rays and radium are dangerous. Shortly after the discovery of X rays, a man employed in a factory making roentgen tubes developed an ulcer in an arm, the arm had to be amputated, and he finally died after a recurrence of the ulceration in the axilla. One of the pioneers in radium therapy fell victim to his work: the surgeon, Robert Abbe, died of anemia like Marie Curie after long exposure to radiations.
The French physician, Jean Bergonie, along with L. Tribondeau, gave us the Law of Radiosensitivity. Bergonie died in 1925 from cancer caused by X rays. First his fingers, then one of his arms, had to be amputated. He finally developed pulmonary metastase, which ultimately caused his death.
To surgery and irradiation, the current mainstay in the treatment of cancer, has been added a third type of therapy, chemotherapy. Whole families of drugs have been created which are claimed to have remarkable influences on the growth of cancer cells and on the mechanisms whereby cells replicate, transmit, and translate genetic information. These new drugs not only kill the cancer cells themselves, but have many adverse effects on bodily processes in the individual harboring cancer.
We shall have to note the physician’s inability, despite surgery, irradiation, or chemotherapy, to “cure” cancer. Healing can only occur endogenously through the organism’s faculties when’ causes are removed and the conditions for health are provided.
Every time a woman sees her gynecologist for a Pap Test; every time she reports a lump in her breast to her doctor; every time a man or woman tells his physician about a sore which refuses to heal, a persistent bleeding, a change in an ordinary mole or wart, reports constant indigestion, or a change in bowel habits, physicians employ scare tactics. They advocate caution and promote reporting any such symptoms immediately to their physician so prompt treatment may commence to ensure a “cure.” The sick individual does not understand that the physician holds no “cures” and only the body has the ability to heal. Any treatment applied at this time or any time will only hinder the body’s own efforts to heal.
- Part I
- 1. Introduction
- 2. The History Of Cancer
- 3. What Cancer Is
- 4. Cancer Incidence
- 5. Normal Cells To Cancer Cells
- 6. A “Cure” For Cancer
- 7. The Seven Stages Of Disease
- 8. Can Cancer Be Prevented?
- 9. How Not To Develop Cancer
- 10. The Requirements For Health Will Fullfill The Needs Of The Sick
- 11. Habits
- 12. Cancer Treatment
- 13. Chemical Contaminants
- 14. Geographical Factors
- 15. Cocarcinogens
- Part II
- Part III
- Part IV
- Part V
- Part VI
- Part VII
- Questions & Answers
- Article #1: Autolyzing Tumors By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #2: Some Prefer Cancer By Lewis E. Machatka
- Article #3: Black Pepper Causes Cancer!
- Article #4: Ten Commandments of Cancer Prevention