Weinberg begins the story of how tumors occur from the first cell with the story of Percival Pott who studied scrotal cancer
in chimney sweeps in England in 1775.
One scrotal cancer
is recorded at a mind-boggling seven feet in circumference and two feet round its neck.
The ability of certain PAH compounds and PAH mixtures to induce cancers has been the subject of research since the original observation by Pott of increased scrotal cancer
incidence among chimney sweeps in 1775, and the first induction of skin tumours in rabbits by dermal application of coal tar for 150 days.
For example, in the 18th century, Sir Percival Pott stopped an epidemic of scrotal cancer
in chimney sweeps by asking them to improve their genital hygiene (Pott 1775), while knowing little about the cause, biology or mechanism of this disease.
Early reports identified elevated scrotal cancer in chimney sweeps (Pott 1775), lung cancer in uranium miners (Harting and Hesse 1879), and urinary bladder cancers in dye industry workers (Rehn 1895).
In 1775, Sir Percival Pott described a high frequency of scrotal cancer among chimney sweeps exposed to coal tar, establishing one of the first links between occupational exposure and cancer.
A mortality analysis of workers in many occupations indicated an increased risk of scrotal cancer
for creosote-exposed brickmakers (18,34-38).
They are also a recognised cause of occupational skin and scrotal cancers
Settlements have been made in the past for former Rover workers who suffered scrotal cancers
believed to have been caused by carcinogenic oils used in heavy manufacturing until the 1970s.
While in an advice centre he found leaflets linking the oils with skin and scrotal cancers
In 18th century England, the high incidence of scrotal cancers
noted among chimney sweeps led the enactment of protective regulations requiring these workers to bathe.
Sir Percival Potts observed an apparent association between scrotal cancers
and tar and soot exposures among chimney sweeps in London in 1775 (Harrison 2004).