In Search of Cancer in Literature

The word cancer comes from the Greek word karkinos meaning “crab”. It was coined by Hippocrates, who thought tumours resembled these creatures. Cancers were known of in ancient times, but little could be done to arrest the disease. Early medical techniques were drastic and, without anaesthesia, tortuous. In more recent literature, stories about cancer focus more on psychological and sociological dimensions of the disease. It serves as a metaphor for the death that awaits us all.