The history of cancer describes the development of the field of oncology and its role in the history of medicine. The earliest known descriptions of cancer appear in several papyri from Ancient Egypt. The Edwin Smith Papyrus was written around BC possibly a fragmentary copy of a text from BC and contains a description of cancer, as well as a procedure to remove breast tumours by cauterization , wryly stating that the disease has no treatment. In a study by the University of Manchester, only one case was found "in the investigation of hundreds of Egyptian mummies, with few references to cancer in literary evidence.
Researchers around the world are working to find better ways to prevent, detect, and treat breast cancer, and to improve the quality of life of patients and survivors. Studies continue to uncover lifestyle factors and habits, as well as inherited genes, that affect breast cancer risk. Here are a few examples:. Researchers continue to look for medicines that might help lower breast cancer risk, especially women who are at high risk.
Cancer begins when cells in a part of the body start to grow out of control. There are many kinds of cancer, but they all start because of out-of-control growth of abnormal cells. To learn more about how cancer forms and grows, see What Is Cancer? Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States.
Although cancer has plagued the world for the entirety of human history, it was not until the early s that people came together to create prominent cancer advocacy associations worldwide and to develop national cancer legislation in the United States. In March of , the Senate Commerce Committee heard the testimony of leading cancer researchers, advocates, and other cancer specialists. They told stories of cancer incidence in the United States, explained possible cures, and expressed the need for a national clinic. Since then, multiple legislative acts and amendments have broadened the role of NCI in supporting and improving cancer research.
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