Monday, February 23, 2009

Origin of Cnacer

For centuries people have wondered about the cause of cancer. Its name derives from an observation by Hippocrates more than 2,300 years ago that the long, distended veins that radiate out from some breast tumors look like the limbs of a crab. From that observation came the term karkinoma in Greek, and later, cancer in Latin.

With the work of Hooke in the 1600s, and then Virchow in the 1800s, came the understanding that living tissues are composed of cells, and that all cells arise as direct descendants of other cells. Yet, this understanding raised more questions about cancer than it answered. Now scientists began to ask from what kinds of normal cells cancer cells arise, how cancer cells differ from their normal counterparts, and what events promote the proliferation of these abnormal cells. And physicians began to ask how cancer could be prevented or cured.

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