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Medical Terminology Daily (MTD) is a blog sponsored by Clinical Anatomy Associates, Inc. as a service to the medical community, medical students, and the medical industry. We post anatomical, medical or surgical terms, their meaning and usage, as well as biographical notes on anatomists, surgeons, and researchers through the ages. Be warned that some of the images used depict human anatomical specimens.

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A Moment in History 

Martin Naboth, title page of De Sterelitate Mulierum 

Martin Naboth
(1675 – 1721)

Not much is known about this German physician and anatomist. He was born in 1675 in Calau, a town in Southern Brandenburg, Germany. He studied medicine at the University in Leipzig, receiving his doctorate in Philosophy in 1701 and his MD in 1703. Although his interests were based in chemistry, Naboth became an avid anatomist, with interest in the anatomy of the female reproductive system.

His main publication in 1707 was “De Sterilitate Mulierum” (On Sterility in Women). In this book he refers to small pearl-like transparent structures found in the uterine cervix. Believing that he had discovered the way women store eggs, he called these “ovarium novum” (new ovaries). His discovery was accepted by many and these structures came to be known as “Ovula Nabothii “. Only later were to understand these structures as cysts created by clogging of the opening of the glands found around the uterine cervix. These mucus-producing glands are known as the [cervical glands] and also as Nabothian glands. These cysts, which are common and do not represent a sign of cervical cancer, are known today as Nabothian cysts.

Naboth had only rediscovered these cysts first described in 1681 by Guillaume des Noues (1650 – 1735), although the eponym records Naboth’s name.

Naboth died in Leipzig in 1721 leaving a large anatomical collection. We have not been able to find an image of Naboth, so we are depicting the title page of his 1707 “De Sterilitate Mulierum”. If you click on the image you can see a larger depiction.

Sources
1. “Histoire de la M?decine, depuis son origine jusqu'au dix-neuvi?me si?cle” A. J. L. Jourdan ; E. F. M. Bosquillon  1815
2. “The Origin of Medical Terms” Skinner HA 1970 Hafner Publishing Co.


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Cancer

The term [cancer] is Latin and means "crab". The word was first used by Galen of Pergamon (129AD - 200AD) who used it to describe the crab-like appearence of the veins of a cancerous tumor, probably a breast cancer. Galen said "... as a crab's feet extend from every part of its body, so in this disease are the veins distended, forming a similar figure". The term cancer is also used in other applications, such as astronomy (Tropic of Cancer) and astrology, as in the zodiacal sign of Cancer. 

The Latin term [cancer] was probably pronounced "kanker" and this may be the origin of the term [canker] to refer to ulcerations around the mouth or angles of the mouth, canker sores. This is also probably the origin of the term [chancre] used for some dried-out sore wounds. 

Greek terms merged into the New Latin, so the Greek terms derived from [karkinos] also made it into modern medical terminology.

Cancer (Wikipedia)
    Colon cancer. Click on the image for a larger picture of a different cancer. WARNING: The larger image could be disturbing.

The word [cancer] is used today to denote a malignant tumor. There are variations of the term using the root term [-carcin-] as in [carcinoma].

The accompanying image is that of a colon specimen with a cancerous tumor. If you click on the image a larger depiction of a cancer of the breast will appear. WARNING: This secondary image could be disturbing to some of our readers.

Sources
1. “A Dictionary of Medical Derivations" Casselman W. Parthenon Publishing, 1997
2. "The origin of Medical Terms: Skinner, 1970
3. "Cancer - Wikipedia"
Images courtesy of Wikipedia 

Personal note: This article is published in memory of my cousin Hugo Barahona who passed away on January 1st 2014 with a cancerous pathology. May he rest in peace. Dr. Miranda