Breast Cancer Surgery

Hanaoka Seishū (1760 – 1835) was a Japanese surgeon of the Edo period with a knowledge of Chinese herbal medicine, as well as Western surgical techniques he had learned through Rangaku (literally “Dutch learning”, and by extension “Western learning”). Hanaoka is said to have been the first to perform surgery using general anesthesia.

Illustration by Kamata Keishu, shows the excision of a cancerous growth from a woman’s breast, an operation which Hanaoka Seishu first carried out in 1804 using general anasthetic
1851.  Image from Wellcome images (link)

The treatise, Geka Kiha, made public for the first time, details some of the surgical interventions pioneered by Hanaoka Seishu and practised by one of his leading followers Kamata Keishu who compiled the work. The illustration shows the excision of a cancerous growth from a woman’s breast, a procedure carried out by Hanaoka in 1804 on his wife using a general anaesthetic, the first recorded use of anaesthesia in surgery anywhere in the world. (from Wellcome images)

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