Thursday, 16 July 2015

The treatment of cancer in Greek antiquity

Volume 40, Issue 14, September 2004, Pages 2033–2040

The treatment of cancer in Greek antiquity 


Literary sources provide considerable information on the existence of various malignant tumours in the classical period. Based on a close reading of the ancient Greek medical treatises, this paper traces the history of the treatment of cancer by examining the theories of tumour formation, as they were codified by leading physicians of antiquity, together with the therapeutic methods they proposed in their writings. The discussion focuses on a series of medical texts beginning with the Hippocratic corpus (ca. 460–370 B.C.) and the voluminous works of Galen (129–199 A.D.) and extends to medical handbooks (Oreibasios, Aetios of Amida, Paul of Aegina) composed in subsequent centuries up to the end of the ancient world (VII c. A.D.).


  • Cancer; 
  • Treatment; 
  • Greek antiquity; 
  • History of medicine
This article is published under the auspices of the European School of Oncology, Milan.

Corresponding author. Tel./fax: +30-26510-99394