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When was cancer discovered?

Human beings have had cancer throughout recorded history. So it is no surprise that from the dawn of history people have written about cancer. Some of the earliest evidence of cancer is found among fossilized bone tumors, human mummies in ancient Egypt, and ancient manuscripts. Bone remains of mummies have revealed growths suggestive of the bone cancer, osteosarcoma. Bony skull destruction as seen in cancer of the head and neck has been found, too.
Our oldest description of cancer (although the word cancer was not used) was discovered in Egypt and dates back to about 1600 B.C. It is called the Edwin Smith Papyrus, and is a copy of part of an ancient Egyptian textbook on trauma surgery. It describes 8 cases of tumors or ulcers of the breast that were treated by cauterization, with a tool called the fire drill. The writing says about the disease, "There is no treatment."

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.