The origin of the word cancer is credited to the Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 BC), who is considered the “Father of Medicine.”
Hippocrates used the terms carcinos and carcinoma to describe non-ulcer forming and ulcer-forming tumors.
In Greek, these words refer to a crab, most likely applied to the disease because the finger-like spreading projections from a cancer called to mind the shape of a crab.
The Roman physician, Celsus (28-50 BC), later translated the Greek term into cancer, the Latin word for crab.
Galen (130-200 AD), another Greek physician, used the word oncos (Greek for swelling) to describe tumors.
Although the crab analogy of Hippocrates and Celsus is still used to describe malignant tumors, Galen’s term is now used as a part of the name for cancer specialists – oncologists.