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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

Antoine Louis
(1723–1792)

French surgeon, anatomist, and physiologist. Following his medical studies and a long career as a physiologist, Antoine Louis was named Permanent Secretary of the Royal French Academy of Surgery. His other titles were those of Professor of the Royal Academy, Consultant Surgeon of the Armies of the King, member of the Royal Society of Sciences of Montpellier, Inspector of the Royal Military Hospitals, and Doctor in Law of the University of Paris. As a member of these academies Louis was instrumental in the design and construction of the guillotine. Initially called the "Louisette", this device was later named after another French physician in the same committee, Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin.

Antoine Louis' name is better know to history as the eponymic origin of the "sternal angle" also know as the "Angle of Louis" and synonymously (probably by misspelling or translation) the "angle of Lewis", and "angle of Ludwig". This anatomical landmark is extremely important as it serves as a superficial landmark for important anatomical occurrences (click here).

As a point of controversy, there are some that contest the history of this eponym adjudicating it to Pierre Charles Alexander Louis (1787-1872), another French physician dedicated to the study of tuberculosis.

Sources:
1. Srickland, N; Strickland A Angle of Louis, More Than Meets the Eye. MedTalks:
2. Ramana, R. K., Sanagala, T. and Lichtenberg, R. (2006), A New Angle on the Angle of Louis. Congestive Heart Failure, 12: 197–199
3
. "The origin of Medical Terms" Skinner, HA; 1970


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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