History of Chemotherapy
Nowadays, the term
chemotherapy is in the mouth of everyone, rich and poor. Our contemporaries use the term chemotherapy to
describe the treatment against cancer, yet the invention of the
chemotherapy was not solely for the treatment of cancer.
The word chemotherapy was used for the
first time by Paul Ehrlich; he is, therefore, considered as the father of modern chemotherapy for his work in
hematology and immunology.
In 1908, Ehrlich's search for antibacterial substances to combat syphilis, he discovered, with his collaborator
Sahachiro Hata, Salvarsan or 606 (later named Neosalvarsan or 912), an arsenic compound used to treat syphilis and
. Salvarsan is considered as the first chemotherapy medication and source of inspiration for the invention of other
modern chemotherapy drugs.
In December 1943
, a ship of American sailors, John Harvey (ship), transported 100 tons of mustard gas was attacked and sunk
by German planes. The
exposed the marine to the gas, and caused a life threatening hematologic toxicity. In search of treatment,
researchers lead to the first trials of treatment with nitrogen mustard. It was the beginning of chemotherapy use
in the treatment of cancer. Nowadays, thanks to advances in medical science, there are plenty of chemotherapy drugs
for all types of cancer. In fact, some cancer patients are
fully cured of cancer through chemotherapy.