During the 3 centuries reviewed herein, all that was known regarding cancer was limited to Italy, France, Germany, and England. Practically nothing was written about cancer in the rest of the known world, including the newly discovered geographic areas in the Americas, Africa, and Australia. The 7 pioneer physicians considered in this review lived through some of the most turbulent geopolitical, social, and religious upheavals that Europe had experienced during the Renaissance. Despite their diverse social, political, and religious backgrounds and disparate personalities, they were united in their commitment to the advancement of medicine and oncology and to spreading knowledge through printed texts. Collectively, they established the groundwork for modern anatomy, physiology, chemistry, pathology, surgical oncology, and chemotherapy. It perhaps is noteworthy that 5 of the 7 physicians who contributed the most to the advancement of surgery and surgical oncology served in various wars as army surgeons. Considering everything together, the refusal of physicians of this epoch to use the microscope is a historical enigma.
During the 3 centuries reviewed herein, all that was known regarding cancer was limited to Italy, France, Germany, and England. The biographies and historical backgrounds of 7 pioneer physicians who contributed the most to the progression of oncology from the end of the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 19th century are presented.