In 1761, Giovanni Morgagni of Padua was the first to do something that is now routine; he did autopsies to relate the patient's illness to pathological findings after death. This research laid the foundation for scientific oncology, the study of cancer. A century later, the development of anesthesia allowed surgery to flourish, and classic cancer operations such as radical mastectomy were developed.
By the middle of the 20th century, researchers found most of the things that caused cancer (carcinogens) cause genetic damage (mutations) that looked a lot like the mutations that could be inherited and could result in the same types of cancer if more mutations were introduced. This is one of many things we have discovered about cancer. Now, billions spent on research, we have some interesting cancer facts for you.
1. Cancer was discovered by Hippocrates over 2000 years ago.
2. Sometimes, patients who seem to have been successfully treated for cancer can have the disease come back years or even decades later, often without warning.
3. When cancer is detected early, treatment is more likely to be successful. But too often, cancers are diagnosed at a late stage, when they're much harder to treat. Human evaluation techniques and today's detection capabilities are one of the biggest problems. Early detection at the cellular level and artificial intelligence as an evaluator of imagery and biomarkers in the future.
4. Some researchers believe that the cancer cells that were not killed by initial treatment can go to sleep, lying dormant before a new trigger of growth begins. What causes some cancer cells to go to sleep, or where they hide when they're asleep, is unknown. Scientists also don't know for sure what wakes these cells up days or years later.
5. The relationship between cancer and proteins in cell communication pathways is still unknown. Today geneticists have deciphered how APOBEC, a protein that fights viral infections, becomes a dangerous mutagen when DNA replication goes awry. It takes advantage of a weakness in our DNA replication process to induce mutations in our genome.
6. The proteasome is a large protein complex responsible for the degradation of intracellular proteins, a process that requires metabolic energy. The proteasome is accountable for clearing away the "garbage" produced by cells. When the proteasome's function is blocked, cells are overcome with their waste and die. Proteasomes are the cell's protein recyclers. Proteins need to be destroyed for many reasons: they may be damaged, or they may be part of an invading virus, or they may not be required anymore.
7. Lifestyle factors create mutagenesis and these mechanisms cause cancer, which is more than toxicity. In one example, being overweight is linked to 13 types of cancer.
8. The immune system is our body's natural defense against infection and disease. But sometimes it doesn't work the way it should. When that happens, cancer can take hold. The immune system is a collection of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body from foreign invaders. The main players are white blood cells, which fight infection.
9. A cancerous tumor is an abnormal growth of cells. Cancerous tumors can grow in any part of the body. The tumor can be either malignant or benign. Malignant tumors are cancerous and can spread to other parts of the body. Benign tumors are not cancerous and will not spread.
10. Cancer is not just one disease, but many diseases. There are more than 100 types of cancer.
There are many more answers to these questions and many more questions to answer. We need to keep fighting this battle on many fronts. We need to keep looking for new and better ways to detect, treat, and prevent cancer. We need to keep learning more about how cancer works. Only by doing all of these things can we hope to one day find a cure for this disease. The only hope we have to cure it is to understand it.