It is uncertain, cases go all the way back to ancient greek times.
An Egyptian seven papyri dating back to between 3000 and 1500 B.C. contains the earliest record of a “cancer” diagnosis and treatment plan. Cancer is, on that account, a disease that has been around for millennia. However, its modern conception as malignant cells run amok that can be combated and “cured” with radical surgery, chemotherapy and radiation has taken shape only within the last century or so as humans live longer and suffer from less infectious and epidemic diseases.
Siddhartha Mukherjee’s “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” offers a fascinating history of the disease. If you don’t want to read all 592 pages, you can find an nice summary here.
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