By Greg Wilson | Wednesday, Nov 2, 2011
An ancient Egyptian had prostate cancer, according to recent testing.
Testing on a 2,250-year-old mummy proves prostate cancer is nothing new. A mummy at the National Archaeology Museum of Lisbon had a pattern of tumors between its pelvis and lower spine, telltale signs of the modern day man killer.
"The bone lesions were considered very suggestive of metastatic prostate cancer," researchers wrote in a paper on the mummy published in the International Journal of Paleopathology. The man beneath the gauze wrapping was between 51 and 60 years old when he died around 285 B.C.
The mummy was analyzed by a powerful Multi-Detector Computerized Tomography scan. Researchers believe the man died a slow and painful death. "It is the oldest known case of prostate cancer in ancient Egypt and the second-oldest case in history," radiologist and researcher Carlos Prates said.
Paula Veiga, an Egyptologist, told Discovery News the case proves that cancer, believed to be largely environmental, existed in ancient Egypt. "This study shows that cancer did exist in antiquity, for sure in ancient Egypt. The main reason for the scarcity of examples found today might be the lower prevalence of carcinogens and the shorter life expectancy," said Veiga.
The earliest known case of prostate cancer was found in 2007, by researchers investigating the skeleton of a 2,700-year-old Scythian king who died in Siberia.