Nobel Conference 56

History of Cancer

The History of Cancer is series of three "mini-lectures" by historian of science Dr. Helen King, Professor Emerita of Classical Studies at the Open University in England. Dr. King served as a Rydell Scholar-in-Residence at Gustavus in 2017-2018. And you can find her on Twitter.

Part I: Having a History

A discussion of the history of the concept of "cancer" and a look at an Egyptian papyrus that makes numerous references to cancers. (How) can we know if these were cancers as we know them? 
Watch the mini-lecture

Part I References:
John Nunn, Ancient Egyptian Medicine (1996) 
J.H. Breasted’s translation of the Edwin Smith Papyrus (1930)
More recent discussions of cancer in skeletal remains:
Live Science: Ancient Egypt and cancer
Science Magazine: Mummy and cancer

Part II: Stories of Patients 

An exploration of some famous historical cancer patients, with a focus on breast cancer. (The first patient, the Persian queen Atossa, has given her name to a breast cancer drug that is presently in clinical trials.)
Watch the mini-lecture

Part II References:
The story of Atossa: use the forward and back arrows above the chapter number (133) to see the rest of the story. 
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (2011) 
Fanny Burney’s account of her surgery in 1811 (click on ‘Transcript’ for the letter itself) 
Jenni Murray on Fanny Burney

Part III: Changing Theories and Changing Therapies

This mini-lecture talks about the shift of theories of medicine from the four humors in ancient medicine, to the images of "war on cancer" more recently.
Watch the mini-lecture.

Part III References:
Calloway Scott’s account of reading the Hippocratic treatises and Galen to make sense of his own cancer
For Galen on bile: Mark Grant,Galen on Food and Diet (2000)
Keith Stewart,Galen’s Theory of Black Bile: Hippocratic tradition, manipulation, innovation (2018)
Nixon and the ‘War on Cancer’
David Cantor (ed.),Cancer in the Twentieth Century (2008)
Robert Proctor,The Nazi War on Cancer (1999)
Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor (1978)