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Sunday, March 23, 2014
3,000 Year Old Skeleton Reveals Most Compelling Look At Metastatic Cancer In Antiquity
Lytic lesion in the spinous process of the 5th thoracic vertebra – photo credit Durham University
A team of British archaeologists from the British Museum and Durham University have discovered what they report is the oldest known complete example in the world of a human with metastatic cancer in a 3,000 year-old skeleton unearthed in the Sudan. Their findings are reported in the academic journal PLOS ONE.
The skeleton of the young adult male was found by Durham University PhD student Michaela Binder in a tomb in modern Sudan in 2013 and dates back to 1200 BC. Analysis of the remains has revealed evidence that this person was afflicted with metastatic malignant soft-tissue carcinoma that had spread from its original location across large areas of the body, making it the oldest convincing complete example of metastatic cancer in the archaeological record. Only about 200 skeletons and mummified individuals from around the world have been reported with different primary and secondary malignancies.