Nanotechnology and Medicine - Oklahoma Department of Career

Nanotechnology and
Cancer Detection
Updated September 2011
History of Cancer
The word cancer comes from Hippocrates, who
is known as the father of medicine.
Engraving by Peter Paul Rubens
Updated September 2011
The Greek words carcinos and carcinoma were
used by Hippocrates to describe tumors.
Carcino and carcinoma are the Greek words for
“crab,” which Hippocrates thought looked
similar to cancerous tumors.
Photo by Stemonitis
Updated September 2011
However, the oldest documented case of
cancer is in ancient Egypt around 1500 B.C.
Ancient Eqyptian Painting: The
GraveChamber of Ramses
The Edwin Smith Papyrus, oldest surviving
surgical document
Recorded on papyrus, it documents eight
cases of tumors located on the breast.
Updated September 2011
There are clues that even ancient Egyptians
could recognize the difference in malignant
and benign tumors.
cc by Klaus D. Peter
Updated September 2011
Image by Ed Uthman, MD
Causes of Cancer
Hippocrates thought the human body was
made up of four fluids: blood, phlegm, yellow
bile and black bile. He believed an excess of
black bile caused cancer. This was the general
thought for the next 1400 years.
Diagram by HighPoint Learning
Updated September 2011
Ancient Egyptians
believed cancer was
caused by
the Gods.
cc by Jeff Dahl
Updated September 2011
The first autopsy was performed
by Giovanni Morgagni of Padua.
This new procedure allowed
medical personnel to discover
blood circulation, which
opened doors for more research
1761 Portrait of Giovanni Morgagni
on diseases.
Updated September 2011
In the 17th century, the lymph theory
was developed and replaced the black
bile theory of Hippocrates. Discovery of
the lymph system gave new insight into
what may be the cause of cancer.
Abnormalities in the lymphatic system
were thought to be the cause.
cc by The Emirr
Updated September 2011
Late in the 1800s, Rudolph Virchow identified
that cells, cancerous cells included, derived
from other cells.
Portrait of Rudolph Virchow,
(National Institutes of Health archive)
Updated September 2011
Other theories began to surface, linking
trauma and parasites to the cause of cancer.
Some thought it spread like a liquid.
CT of Brain Trauma by
Rehman T, Ali R, Tawil I,
Yonas H
Updated September 2011
Toxoplasma (blood parasite)
Image provided by Ke Hu
and John Murray
Karl Thiersch, a German
surgeon, later concluded
that cancer spread through
malignant cells.
Photograph of Karl Thiersch,
circa 1850s
Updated September 2011
Today we know that cancer is
abnormal, often rapid cell
Cancer can be caused by a
multitude of things. Some
habits we form can cause
Positive habits such as
exercise, healthy eating, and
stress reduction may help
prevent cancer from forming.
Updated September 2011
cc by Biswarup Ganguly
Smoking causes 30 percent of all
cancer deaths in the U.S. and is the
cause of 87 percent of lung cancer
cases. Smoking not only affects
the lungs, but it can cause cancer
in the kidney, pancreas, cervix, and
stomach aw well as leukemia.
Smoker’s lung
Image from the National
Cancer Institiute
Updated September 2011
Genetics plays a major role in the development
of cancer. Individuals with a family history of
cancer should take extra care to monitor their
health with timely checkups.
Updated September 2011
Genetic tests are available for many hereditary
cancers. However, having a family history of
cancer does not mean a person will develop
cancer. It just means the chances are higher.
Updated September 2011
Environmental factors are also causes of cancer.
Exposure to asbestos, benzene, and the sun
are all known to be a cause of cancer. Asbestos
has a group of minerals found in housing and is
known to cause a rare cancer that involves the
lungs. Benzene is a chemical found in gasoline,
smoking and pollution.
Updated September 2011
Treatment of Cancer
In ancient Egypt cancer was treated by cauterization
which is a method to destroy tissue with a hot
instrument called the fire drill.
Cauterization Tool
Updated September 2011
cc by David Monniaux
According to inscriptions, surface tumors were
surgically removed in a manner similar to their
removal today.
skin cancer
Image from National Cancer Institute
Updated September 2011
In the 20th century, the medical field
saw the greatest progression in
cancer research. Research identified
carcinogens, chemotherapy, and
radiation therapy. Better means of
diagnosis were also discovered.
Photo by Linda Bartlett
Updated September 2011
Today cancer treatment can involve several
different treatments. Surgery, radiation
therapy, and chemotherapy are standard
methods of treatment.
Photo by Rhoda Baer
Radiation Therapy
Updated September 2011
Photo by Linda Bartlett
Photo by Rhoda Baer
Today some cancers are curable, and research
is ongoing.
Clinical trials, which are
research studies conducted
with people who volunteer to
take part, are great ways for
scientific questions to be
Updated September 2011
Photo by Rhoda Baer
Clinical studies try to find better ways to prevent, screen for,
diagnose, or treat a disease. People taking part in clinical
studies have an opportunity to contribute to the knowledge of,
and progress against, cancer. They also receive up to date care
from experts.
Photo by Rhoda Baer
Updated September 2011
Nanotechnology is being used in the medical field to
identify and treat tumors. Intravenous injections of
liposomes carrying a gene known to kill cancer cells
and other molecules have been injected in mice and
have effectively destroyed pancreatic tumors while
leaving healthy tissues intact.
Image by Cradel
Updated September 2011
Liposome Rendering by
Dennis Barten
We are learning more and more about cancer
treatments every day. Nanotechnology is the newest
and perhaps the most promising treatment in modern
civilization. Gold particles injected into cancer
patients could be the answer for which we’ve been
Gold Nanoparticle
Graphic by Jaakko Akola and
Michael Walter, University of Jyväskylä.
Updated September 2011
This module is one of a series designed to introduce faculty and high school
students to the basic concepts of nanotechnology. Each module includes a
PowerPoint presentation, discussion questions, and hands-on activities, when
The series was funded in part by:
The National Science Foundation
Grant DUE-0702976
and the
Oklahoma Nanotechnology Education Initiative
Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in the
material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the
National Science Foundation or the Oklahoma Nanotechnology Education Initiative.
Updated September 2011
Image Credits
Akola, Jaako and Walter, Michael (Designers) hakkinen_nanopartikkelit [Digital Image].
CSC-IT Center for Science.
Artist Unknown. Portrait of Rudolf Virchow. [Painting]. United States. National Institutes of Health.
Baer, Rhoda (Photographer) Treatment: Drugs/Chemotherapy [Photograph]. United States. National
Cancer Institute. (
Baer, Rhoda. (Photographer) Treatment: Chemotherapy [Photograph]. United States. National Cancer
Institute. (
Baer, Rhoda. (Photographer) Treatment: Radiation [Photograph]. United States. National Cancer
Institute. (
Barten, Dennis (Designer). Liposoom [Digital Image]. The Netherlands. Wikimedia Commons
Bartlett, Linda. (Photographer) Diagnosis: Biopsy [Photograph]. Unites States. National Cancer Institute.
Bartlett, Linda. (Photographer) Technology: Lab [Photograph]. United States. National Cancer Institute.
Updated September 2011
Image Credits
Cradel (Designer) Illu pancrease.svg [Digital Image]. United States. Wikimedia
Commons (
Dahl, Jeff (Artist). Isis. [Digital Image]. Wikimedia Commons (
Ganguly, Biswarup. (Photographer) Vegetables 0006.jpg [Digital Image]. India. Wikimedia Commons
Hu, Ke and Murray, John. (Photographers) Toxoplasma_Gondii.jpg [Digital Image]. United States. The
Public Library of Science (
Monniaux, David. (Photographer). Cauter DXC09457.jpg [Digital Image]. United States. Wikimedia
Commons (
Peter, Klaus d. (Photographer). Lipoma of the skin. [Photograph]. Germany. Wikimedia Commons
Portrait of Giovanni Battista Morgagni [Painting] Wikimedia Commons (
Rubens, Peter Paul (Artist) Hippocrates [Engraving]. Belgium. Wikimedia Commons
Updated September 2011
Image Credits
Stemonitis (Photographer). Crab Icon.png [Digital Image]. United States. Wikimedia Commons
The Edwin Smith Papyrus. [Surgical Writings on Papyrus]. Egypt. Wikimedia Commons
The Emirr (Designer). The Lymphatic System [Digital Image]. United States. Wikimedia Commons
The Grave chamber of Ramses, Vizier and head of Thebes under Amenhotep III. And IV, Scene: Funeral
procession, detail [Painting]. Egypt. Wikimedia Commons (
Unknown artist. Carl Thiersch (1822-1895), German surgeon [Photograph]. Germany. Wikimedia
Commons (
Unknown Photographer. Melanoma: Pathology [Photograph]. United States. National Cancer Institute.
Unknown Photographer. Pathology: Organ: Lung (Cancer) [Photograph]. United States. National Cancer
Institute. (
Uthman, Ed, MD. (Photographer). Metastatic Melanoma in Lymph Node. [Photograph] Wikimedia
Commons (
Updated September 2011
Going Small for Big Advances (2004). National Institutes of Health Publication Number
04-5489. [Kindle Edition] Retrieved from
The History of Cancer (2010). The American Cancer Society. Retrieved from
Updated September 2011

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