The use of minerals and plant-based medicines are believed to date back to prehistoric medicine. The first use of drugs to treat cancer, however, was in the early 20th century, although it was not originally intended for that purpose.
Mustard gas was used as a chemical warfare agent during World War I and was studied further during World War II. During a military operation in World War II, a group of people were accidentally exposed to mustard gas and were later found to have very low white blood cell counts. It was reasoned that an agent that damaged the rapidly-growing white blood cells might have a similar effect on cancer.
Therefore, in the 1940s, several patients with advanced lymphomas (cancers of certain white blood cells) were given the drug by vein, rather than by breathing the irritating gas. Their improvement, although temporary, was remarkable. That experience led researchers to look for other substances that might have similar effects against cancer.
As a result, many other drugs have been developed to treat cancer, and drug development since then has exploded into a multibillion-dollar industry, although the principles and limitations of chemotherapy discovered by the early researchers still apply.'''
This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article on
All material adapted used from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Wikipedia® itself is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.