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  • Print publication year: 1993
  • Online publication date: March 2008

II.6 - Concepts of Cancer

from Part II - Changing Concepts of Health and Disease
Cancer was held to be caused by black bile. Carcinoma of the breast was probably the earliest actual neoplasm for which surgical eradication was attempted. Cancer was an inflammatory reaction to extravasated lymph, the type of lesion depending on its qualities. The concept of autonomy suggests that once a cell has become truly cancerous it is beyond bodily control. Exposure to radon gas has been clearly shown to be a cause of lung cancer in uranium miners. Thyroid cancer results from a small to moderate radiation exposure to the neck with a latency period of about a decade. The liver is subject to two principal types of cancer. One originates in liver cells, and a history of infection with the hepatitis B virus predisposes to this. The other originates in cells of the bile ducts. A predisposition to develop this form of cancer is caused by infestation with the liver fluke Clonorchis sinensis and related parasites.
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The Cambridge World History of Human Disease
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