I found this to be interesting information. This comes from The Family Medical Guide and what was thought of Cancer in 1853. Since my father has experienced four types of cancer and survived all of them, I'm very glad we live with the information modern medicine has made with the disease.
This disease is, on its first appearance, a hard tumour, situated upon some gland; it increases in size, and becomes knotty, hard, and very painful; in course of time it turns into an ulcer, which has an uneven surface, ragged and painful edges, and spreads very rapidly, discharging a thin matter that flays the surrounding parts, and has a foetid smell. The parts generally affected are the breasts and testicles, but sometimes it attacks the lips, tongue, and womb. Chimneysweepers are very liable to it, from the soot lodging in the folds of the scrotum. It is most generally to be met with in persons advanced in life, especially in women about the turn of life. Women who have had no children, and those who have had them but not suckled them, are very liable to it. A cancer may arise from external injury, such as a blow, &c. When any gland has become enlarged and shews a tendency to become hard, proper means should be immediately applied to disperse it. All pressure should be removed, especially those lady-killers called stays, if it be the breasts that are affected. The bowels should be kept gently open, and a cooling regimen enjoined; all stimulants, such as wine, spirits, &c., should be abstained from. A mustard poultice should be put on the part (if accessible), and it should be constantly bathed with warm water and well rubbed with Measam's Cream. These means I have found to prevent many cancers.
When the disease shews itself in reality, sedative poultices made of poppies, hemlock, &c, should be applied to relieve the pain, and these should be constantly applied. If the disease proceeds to ulceration, make a poultice of the following :—Take half a pound of bread and two ounces of charcoal; mix with warm water for a poultice, and put it all over the parts: or a poultice of carrots scraped, mixed with yeast and oatmeal. These will in many cases afford great relief, and destroy the fcetor and acrimony of the discharge. The air should be excluded in all cases. In general, every means will be found ineffectual; but the above, and the constant use of Measam's Cream, I have found to be pre-eminently successful.
By all means avoid the LANCET and the KNIFE : if relief is to be obtained at all, it is not from them. The celebrated Dr. Reid, of Edinburgh, had as many as three operations performed upon him; he was afflicted with cancer on the tongue ; but although he had the best and most able advice England or Scotland could afford, every operation seemed only to increase the violence of the disease. He at last sunk under it, and was indebted to chloroform for relief from the agonies of a death-bed. If, then, such a man, with such aid, could have no relief from their deadly use, how can those less fortunately circumstanced expect it ? The remark of Dr. Dickson is quite true ; he says :—" Few people now die of disease—it is the orthodox fashion to die of the doctor."