History of Cancer Detection 1851-1995

1851 - Malignant Cells Found in Sputum

The first description of malignant cells in the sputum was reported by W.H. Washe. 1 Sputum tests are now performed to screen for lung cancer.

  • 1. Long, S.R. and Cohen, M.B. "Classics in Cytology VI: The Early Cytologic Discoveries of Lionel S. Beale." Diagnostic Cytopathology. 9 (1993): 595-598. [PUBMED]
1881 - Gastroscope Invented

The first gastroscope, an instrument inserted down the esophagus and used to view and detect cancer in the lower esophagus and stomach, was created by Jan Mikulicz-Radecki.1

  • 1. Kielan, W. et al. "Jan Mikulicz-Radecki: One of the Creators of World Surgery." Keio Journal of Medicine. 54 (2005): 1-7. [PUBMED]
1894 - Cytoscope Invented

The first cystoscope, an instrument that is inserted through the urethra and used to detect cancer of the bladder, was created by Maximilian Carl Friedrich Nitze. 1

  • 1. Reuter, M.A., and Reuter, H.J. "The Development of the Cystoscope." The Journal of Urology. 159 (1998): 638-640. [PUBMED]
1896 - X-Rays First Used to Detect Cancer

The newly discovered X-ray radiograph, or Roentgen picture (named after its discoverer, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen), was used by Franz Konig, a German surgeon to picture an amputated leg which was determined to contain a sarcoma of the tibia.12 The X-ray quickly became a tool for visualizing and diagnosing tumors inside the body. In 1901, Röntgen won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on X-rays.

  • 1. Glasser, Otto. Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen: The Early History of the Rontgen Rays. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas, 1934.
  • 2. Grigg, E. R. N. The Trail of the Invisible Light: From X-Strahlen to Radio(bio)logy. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas, 1965.