A team from a Spanish university has discovered what Egyptian authorities are calling the world’s oldest evidence of breast cancer in the 4,200-year-old skeleton of an adult woman.
Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty said the bones of the woman, who lived at the end of the 6th Pharaonic Dynasty, showed “an extraordinary deterioration.”
“The study of her remains shows the typical destructive damage provoked by the extension of a breast cancer as a metastasis,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
Despite being a leading cause of death today, cancer is virtually absent in archaeological records.
This has given rise to the idea that cancers are mainly attributable to modern lifestyles and to people living for longer, said Reuters on their website
But the finding, along with evidence reported last year by British researchers of metastatic cancer in a 3,000-year-old skeleton found in a tomb in modern Sudan, suggests cancer was around in the Nile Valley in ancient times.
The Spanish research team, based at the University of Jaén and led by the University of Granada’s Miguel Ortega, said the Egyptian woman was an aristocrat from Elephantine. Her remains were discovered in the necropolis of Qubbet el-Hawa, west of the southern city of Aswan, reported the NBC News.
According to the World Health Organization’s cancer research agency, in 2012 new cancer cases rose to an estimated 14 million a year, a figure that is estimated to rise to 22 million a year within 20 years.
It’s interesting that cancer sporadically appeared back then. In today’s society, it is far too commonplace.