Cancer Through Time

“Cancer is as ancient as we are.”
– Dr. Matthew Ryan

Dr. Ryan joins us today to discuss cancer in the ancient world and why it often seems more familiar than many people realize. We discuss the origins of cancer, how Darius the Great’s wife, Atossa, was diagnosed with cancer, and how her feelings and emotions about her condition were similar to how many women feel today when diagnosed with cancer. We discuss how the Ancient Greeks studied and described cancer, how it was treated during ancient times, how they performed the world’s first mastectomy to treat breast cancer, and how successful they were in treating it. We also debunk some of the myths about cancer’s origins and our historical efforts to treat and cure it.

Dr. Matthew Ryan is a fellow Medical Oncologist and Hematologist at Green Bay Oncology. After earning a degree in aerospace engineering at Iowa State University, Dr. Ryan went on to obtain his medical degree at the University of Iowa. While completing his residency and oncology and hematology fellowships at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, he developed the clinical practice guidelines for the organization’s oncology tumor group. As a Board Certified Physician in Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology, and Hematology, Dr. Ryan currently treats all types of cancers and adult blood disorders. He enjoys reading and spending time with his family when he’s not treating patients.

This week on Cancer Covered:

  • Atossa’s cancer diagnosis journey
  • The history of cancer and how the Ancient Greeks described it
  • Treatment options available in the ancient world
  • The world’s first mastectomy
  • The similarities between women with neglected breast cancer today vs. those with it during Ancient Greek times
  • Debunking the myths around the origins of cancer

Resources Mentioned:

  • Book: The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

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