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#167603 - 04/16/07 08:01 PM Cancer
Gizmo Offline
stranger

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 1
My daughter asked this evening why the disease cancer was named after a crab. I figured I'd check here first!

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#167620 - 04/17/07 12:52 PM Re: Cancer [Re: Gizmo]
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
Perhaps because it sticks to you as if it had claws? Let's wait for one of our resident etymologists to explain the connection... and welcome, Gizmo.

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#167621 - 04/17/07 01:43 PM Re: Cancer [Re: AnnaStrophic]
tsuwm Offline
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Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10521
Loc: this too shall pass
the tumour, according to Galen, was so called from the swollen veins surrounding the part affected bearing a resemblance to a crab's limbs. [OED2]

-joe (crabbit) friday

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#168129 - 05/08/07 01:22 PM Re: Cancer [Re: tsuwm]
quizzersapru Offline
stranger

Registered: 01/17/07
Posts: 2
Well, I am not only interested in etymology, but am also a practising radiation oncologist. There are loads of medical books explaining the etymology of "cancer". "Cancer" or the Greek "Canker" means "crab". Although one is not certain who coined this term, most books agree on Galen (which is sort of ironic, as he was a Roman physician and chose a Greek root; but then doctors have always loved esoteria... :-) ) Anyway, the term comes from the descriptive pathology of a usual malignant tumour (malignant is important, because you cannot/should not term benign lesions as cancer; and more importantly, or relevantly, the ancient ones recognised the entity of malignant & benign, and chose to name only the malignant one as "cancer"!) which spreads its claws in all directions, much like a crab, and has a tenacious tendency to hold on to the parent tissue even when resected, again like the creature.
Hope this helps.
Cheers.
_________________________
Cogito ergo sum!

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#169718 - 08/27/07 05:58 PM Re: Cancer [Re: quizzersapru]
Jose Gros Offline
stranger

Registered: 08/25/07
Posts: 17
Hi! The info I have is in the same line. The word crab seems to have been used by classical greeks because some breast tumours, namely a type called "scirrous" gave -it is not the case today unless left without therapy- the breast the appearance of having been attacked by crab´s claws. I am a medical oncologist, and yes I have interest in ethymologies, as the origin of words give clues to the history of them, and old meanings, and meanings in different cultures give light to unsuspected connections, e.g. God,Gott, gauthi, gotha, ghost, gheist, Deus, Eloi, Allah, El-Al, Jainkoa, Dyaus, Zeus, Jupiter, Yahveh Adonay (Jhvh Dny) Juhuvah Adonayanam (jhvh dnynm), King, Koenig, Ganaka. Wikipedia contains a lot of resources on this


Edited by Jose Gros (08/28/07 09:03 AM)

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#182018 - 01/25/09 01:05 AM Re: Cancer [Re: Jose Gros]
LukeJavan8 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 6435
Loc: Land of the Flat Water


I seem to remember the reverend who gave the invocation at
Obama's inauguration invoking Isai, Yeshua, Jesus, etc.
toward the end of the prayer. In a way, however, by doing
so he ignored many by remaining totally in his own faith.
Not bad necessarily, just interesting.
_________________________
----please, draw me a sheep----

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#182021 - 01/25/09 10:55 AM Re: Cancer [Re: LukeJavan8]
zmjezhd Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/13/05
Posts: 3290
Loc: R'lyeh
The Latin for crab (and cancer) is cancer, whence English cancer and canker; the Greek for crab is karkinos, whence English carcinoma. Galen wrote in Greek and used karkinos 'crab' for the disease cancer; Aulus Cornelius Celsus used the Latin word cancer in his De medicina. Greek has both ogkos, i.e., onkos, whence English oncology) and kele) for 'tumor' .
_________________________
Ceci n'est pas un seing.

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#182023 - 01/25/09 12:27 PM Re: Cancer [Re: zmjezhd]
LukeJavan8 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 6435
Loc: Land of the Flat Water

Wherever the term comes from it is catastrophic, and I hope
our two posters above who work in the field help find a
cure and soon.
_________________________
----please, draw me a sheep----

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#182079 - 01/27/09 09:59 AM Re: Cancer [Re: zmjezhd]
The Pook Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/20/08
Posts: 1067
Loc: Tasmania
Originally Posted By: quizzersapru
(which is sort of ironic, as he was a Roman physician and chose a Greek root


Originally Posted By: zmjezhd
The Latin for crab (and cancer) is cancer, whence English cancer and canker; the Greek for crab is karkinos, whence English carcinoma. Galen wrote in Greek and used karkinos 'crab' for the disease cancer; Aulus Cornelius Celsus used the Latin word cancer in his De medicina. Greek has both ogkos, i.e., onkos, whence English oncology) and kele) for 'tumor' .

Very thorough as usual James!

The only thing I can think to add is that the reason he would have written in Greek even though he was from a Roman family line himself, is that Greek was the linga franca of most of the Roman Empire at that time. Latin was the language of the Army and Civil Administration, but Greek was the language of the marketplace, science, religion and philosophy. It was only after the Empire split into East and West that Latin became more important in the Western half and eventually dominated European science and religion. Greek continued to be dominant in the Byzantine Empire. Galen also lived in Pergamum, at the more Greek end of the Empire. Of course if he live there now he would speak Turkish.

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#182083 - 01/27/09 12:10 PM Re: Cancer [Re: The Pook]
LukeJavan8 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 6435
Loc: Land of the Flat Water


And I believe the everyday spoken Greek was/is called Koine
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----please, draw me a sheep----

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