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Physics in the News
Title: Fighting Cancer Across The Disciplines
Date: 02/23/2011
Publication: ScienceMatters@Berkeley
Editor: Monica Friedlander
Extended Text:

Still a mystery in the 21st Century, cancer has been known and documented since ancient times. The oldest known written description of cancer dates back to an Egyptian manuscript from 1,600 B.C.E. The Greeks used the term “oncos” — Greek for “hard swelling” — to describe cancer, a term that is used to this day for the field of medicine dealing cancer: oncology.

Two millennia and billions of breast cancer self-exams later, we still use our sense of touch — in addition to modern-day diagnostic tools — to detect those dreaded lumps. Most of us do not stop to wonder why that is, but researchers today increasingly do. How is tissue hardness related to cancer? What is the relationship between what we feel and what is really going on at the cellular level in terms of biological and physical processes?