Surgical Treatment of Cancer in Ancient Greece and Rome

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Papavramidou N, Papavramidis T, Demetriou T. Ancient Greek and Greco-Roman methods in modern surgical treatment of cancer. Ann Surg Oncol. 2010 Mar;17(3):665-7. PubMed PMID: 20049643; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2820670.

Medical historians at the Democritus University of Thrace and AHEPA University Hospital describe ancient surgical methods and correlate them with modern medical practice. Their survey encompasses Hippocratic physicians, Archigenes of Apamea, Galen, Leonides of Alexandria, and Paulus Aegineta.

From the conclusion:

“Taking into consideration the possible explanations provided in the ancient references to surgical treatment of cancer, one can only admire ancient medical practice. Even if most of the explanations were found in modern years, ancient physicians managed to use surgery with skills acquired through observation and experimentation in animals. Poor postoperative results taught the ancient physicians what they were able to do and what not, blaming though the nature of the tumor for any unfortunate prognosis.”

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