Cancer has been known since ancient times. There is even a mention of cancer in the Bible ("and obscene verbiage, move away; for they will prosper even more in wickedness, and their word, like cancer, will spread."), Which suggests that even then the features of the clinical development of cancer were known.
However, cancer became a really acute problem in the 20th and 21st centuries. This is due to the development of medicine. The fact is that, thanks to, for example, controlling infections, people live much longer and "live" to their cancer. If humanity learns to truly effectively fight against cancer and people live on average up to 120-130 years, then it is not known what kind of disease will become the "disease of the century".
Archeology shows that apparently already Neanderthals suffered from cancer. Historically, for the first time this disease (specifically - breast cancer) was described in the ancient Egyptian papyrus 3600 years ago. The name "cancer" (carcinoma) was introduced by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates. The first methods of cancer treatment, by removing the tumor, were proposed in ancient Rome in the 1st century BC