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Ancient Egyptians attempted cancer treatment, reveals 4,000-year-old skulls


A new study has uncovered that ancient Egyptians tried to treat excessive tissue growth and investigate cancerous disorders through operations, even after a patient's death.

This revelation comes from the examination of two 4,000-year-old skulls, shedding light on the medical knowledge and practices of one of the world's earliest civilizations.

The ancient Egyptians were already known for their ability to identify, describe, and treat various diseases and injuries, construct prostheses, and perform dental fillings.

An international team of researchers studied two ancient human skulls, one male and one female, to further understand the medical prowess of the ancient Egyptians. The cut marks found on these skulls demonstrated the extent of the traumatological and oncological treatments practised during that era.

These findings were detailed in a paper published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine.

Edgard Camaros, a paleopathologist at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, described the discovery as "unique and extraordinary" evidence of ancient Egyptian attempts to manage or understand cancer more than 4,000 years ago.

The male skull, known as Skull and Mandible 236, dates back to between 2687 and 2345 BCE and belonged to an individual aged 30 to 35. The female skull, referred to as Skull E270, dates from between 663 and 343 BCE and belonged to an individual older than 50 years.

Microscopic analysis of Skull 236 revealed a large lesion consistent with neoplasm, indicating excessive tissue destruction. Additionally, around 30 small, round metastasized lesions were scattered across the skull, with cut marks likely made by a sharp object, such as a metal instrument. "When we first observed the cut marks under the microscope, we could not believe what was in front of us," said Tatiana Tondini, a researcher at the University of Tübingen in Germany.

Skull E270 also showed a large lesion consistent with a cancerous tumor that resulted in bone destruction, along with two lesions from traumatic injuries that had received treatment. The research team suggested that these findings indicate cancer was a common pathology in the past, despite today's increased risk from modern lifestyle and environmental cancer-causing substances.

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TAGS:EgyptCancer TreatmentAncient Egypt
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