New Exhibit at the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library

March 8, 2016 at 10:56 am

A new exhibit is now on display in the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library.

This exhibit will be on display from March – December 2016.

 

EVOLUTION AND KNOWLEDGE OF CANCER:
THE EARLY YEARS

Two views of Clara Jacobi, a Dutch woman who had a tumor removed from her neck in 1689

Two views of Clara Jacobi, a Dutch woman who had a tumor removed from her neck in 1689

Human beings and other animals have had cancer throughout recorded history.  Some of the earliest evidence of cancer is found among fossilized bone tumors, human mummies in ancient Egypt, and ancient manuscripts.  Growths suggestive of the bone cancer called osteosarcoma have been seen in mummies.  The earliest record of neoplastic disease is found in the Edwin Smith Papyrus, part of an ancient Egyptian textbook on trauma surgery.

The Renaissance marked advances in anatomy and wound surgery and scientists developed a greater understanding of the human body.  But until the humoral system of pathology was discarded and classification of tumors begun by means of autopsy, improvement in diagnosis and treatment of cancer was lacking.  During the years 1761-1838 Giovanni Morgagni began performing autopsies in order to relate illness to pathologic findings after death.  Progress was made in the description and classification of cancer which laid the foundation for scientific oncology.  This period also marked the beginning of cancer hospitals.

Joseph Lister made surgery relatively safe and men like Billroth and Volkmann seized upon the idea of radical surgery to treat cancer and were quick to carry out resection which had previously been impossible.  Improved knowledge of the anatomy of regional lymphatics made it possible to plan dissections intended to remove not only the primary tumor but all adjacent tissue that might contain metastases.

This exhibit ends with the discovery of roentgen rays and radium in the late 1800’s by Wilhelm Röntgen and Pierre and Marie Curie respectively, both of which were used in the treatment of cancer.

 

VIEWING TIMES: MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY 9 A.M. – 1 P.M.

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Submitted to LibLog by:
Hilary J. Lane
Instructor in History of Medicine
Coordinator – W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library

Entry filed under: Feature Articles, History of Medicine. Tags: , , .

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