This post will overview the development of oncology through out history. Cancer is a malicious disease. Though medicine was not advanced enough to treat cancer, throughout history, there have been many theories to cancer.
Hippocrates had believed that there were four components to the human body- blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. He believed that a healthy human had a balance of these four substances. If anything became unbalanced then that was thought to have caused cancer. This theory is known as Humoral Theory (History of Cancer 3).
Different theories developed from Hippocrates’ theory, but in 1838 came a breakthrough- Blastema theory. Johannes Muller, showed that cancer did not derive from any irregularities of bodily liquids but from irregularities in cells. Eventually, Karl Thiersch would prove that cancer spreads from malignant cells (History of Cancer 3).
As time went on, technology improves. New instruments, allowed scientists to study cancer more closely and grasp it cause. Also, genetics had come a long way. Scientists learned that cancer stems from DNA mutations. And unfortunately, DNA mutations are mostly inherited. There are genes in the body known as tumor suppressor genes that regulate cell division and correct DNA mistake in encoding. When these genes are less in number or are not working properly, malignant cell growth has no regulation (History of Cancer par 7).
Some forms of cancer have increased in number because of lifestyle changes. For example, toxins in the air have increased cancers like lung cancer (History of Cancer 8).
As far as removal of cancer, even ancient scientists knew that after the surgical removal of the tumor, the cancer would eventually grow back (History of Cancer 10). Celsus, a Roman physician said, “After excision, even when a scar has formed, none the less the disease has returned” (qtd. in History of Cancer 7). Surgery is still being used today, but the instruments have become much more precise as technology advanced.
There was not much separation of pediatric oncology and adult oncology throughout history until recent years. This is much like many fields of medicine now. Oncology itself, is an up and coming field in medicine, but even in internal medicine, the separation of children’s medicine has only been present in recent years.