SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

 
vol.101 número10HPCSA emergency care media releaseVasbyt now, reap NHI dividends later: Green Paper índice de autoresíndice de assuntospesquisa de artigos
Home Pagelista alfabética de periódicos  

Serviços Personalizados

Artigo

Indicadores

Links relacionados

  • Em processo de indexaçãoCitado por Google
  • Em processo de indexaçãoSimilares em Google

Compartilhar


SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

versão On-line ISSN 2078-5135

SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. vol.101 no.10 Cape Town Out. 2011

 

CORRESPONDENCE

 

Breast cancer in antiquity

 

 

To the Editor: Retief and Cilliers stated in their interesting article1 that 'Evidence of cancers in the Egyptian papyri is very uncertain, but the occurrence of the word weshau (eating) may on occasion be interpreted as indicative of malignancy, and breast cancer may have been recognised.'

This view is contrary to that held by others, which seems quite specific about breast cancer. The Edwin Smith Papyrus2 was written about 5 000 years ago, and is quoted by many. The relevant description is case 45, which has various subheadings (rubrics) in red hieratic:

TITLE: Instructions concerning bulging tumours of the breast.

EXAMINATION: If thou examinest a man [person] having bulging tumours of the breast, and [thou] findest that swellings have spread over the breast; if thou puttest thy hand upon ... these tumours, and thou findest them very cool, there being no fever at all therein ... they have no granulation, they form no fluid, they do not generate secretions of fluid, and they are bulging to the hand ... [from a gloss] touching them is like a ball of wrappings, the comparison is to a green haemat-fruit [probably pomegranate] which is hard and cool under thy hand.

TREATMENT: There is no [treatment].

 

David Dent
Emeritus Professor of Surgery
University of Cape Town
dmdent2@mweb.co.za

 

1. Retief FP, Cilliers L. Breast cancer in antiquity. S Afr Med J 2011;101:513-515.         [ Links ]

2. Breasted JH. The Edwin Smith Papyrus. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1930. Vol 1, case 45:463.         [ Links ]

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License