Ok were were we….oh yes, we had just finished talking about how for thousands of years the common thought was that cancer was caused by too much of this hidden fluid in the body known at the ‘black bile‘, despite the fact that it had never been seen. We also talked about how due to the ubiquitous production and flow of this black bile, physicians believed for many a thousand years that one should not remove the tumors/cancer if discovered…as the black bile would flow back in and the patient would be worse off. Finally, since the Egyptians (if not earlier) all illness and especially cancer was caused by the gods of some sort of external influence that we had no control of and was not related to our own bodies per say.
It took some daring rule breakers to actually question the Greeks dominance in medicine. As I also mentioned even when it became clear that Cancer was not due to black bile, as none could be found ever in any cadavers and cancer might be removable through surgery, some HUGE hurdles remained. Two of them included post surgical death and the other included unbearable pain during the necessary operations.
Both of these were solved in time and actually rather quickly in succession. Two Germans Paul Ehrlich in 1828 and then Paul Ehrlich in 1878 linked chemicals that could be made in the lab with potential treatment that could be made in humans…never before thought possible. All of this possible due to the chemical dye revolution that was going on in Germany at the time. Modern chemistry was taking off and these two started linking chemistry and biology in ways never dreamed of. Ehrlich eventually won the Nobel prize for using a chemical to kill the bacteria that was killing people with tuberculosis (in 1908).
With this, although no anti cancer agent had been discovered, the road to the use of chemical to treat any disease including cancer was finally opened! Other would now have to fill the coffers with appropriate medicines.
Please stay tuned for more.
Please also visit cancer made simple to find out more about cancer!!!
Thanks Dr. C
- more on cancer history (simplecancer.wordpress.com)
- Cancer: a brief history! (simplecancer.wordpress.com)
- Cancer history (simplecancer.wordpress.com)
- ‘The Emperor of All Maladies’: A biography of cancer, and hopes for a cure (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- When did we start using chemo therapy to treat cancer? (greenanswers.com)