Breast cancer, the first cause of cancer death in women 

Oct 25th, 2019, by Labtoo's team

In 2018, almost 2 million new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed. On the occasion of Pink October, let us focus on the most commonly occurring cancer in women and the second most common cancer overall.


First discovery

Breast cancer is a pathology referring to the uncontrolled proliferation of mammary gland cells. It exists multiple types of breast cancer that evolve differently, and thus are not treated the same way.

The first signs of tumor observation in the chest area were found in the Edwin Smith Papyrus (oldest known surgical treatise) which goes back to 3 000 B.C.


Treatments over time

During Antiquity, the preferred treatment was amputation, achieved without anesthesia and covering the entire breast, it often resulted in severe bleeding, sometimes lethal. As an alternative to amputation, plastering with raw meat was used to "feed" cancer so it could leave its host. In the Middle Age, medical progress was entwined with emerging religious beliefs, and although the Christians thought of surgery as "barbaric" and kept to faith healing, the Muslims based their medicine on Greeks texts which saved a lot of knowledge.

It is during the Renaissance that a new emergence of surgery was observed and it is in the 19th century that the first disinfectants and sterile gloves were used and that general anesthesia was developed! The first mastectomy (removal of the breast) was performed in 1894, this is the operation that was performed in cases of breast cancer until the beginning of the 20th century. As more was learned about the functioning of the disease and as radiotherapy and chemotherapy developed, this practice was largely limited. Since then, the treatments, although heavy, have been less destructive.


Breast cancer, today

Today, although the number of cases has increased, the mortality rate is constantly decreasing, thanks to advances in treatment (surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, etc.) but also in diagnosis, which allows early management and thus limits the consequences associated with the disease.

Do you work in oncology R&D?