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World's oldest cancer found in 3,200-year-old skeleton

Posted on Mar 18 2014 | IANS

London, March 18 : It's a discovery that can shed light on the origin of cancer. Archaeologists have unearthed a 3,200-year-old skeleton.

The skeleton was unearthed at the once-populated Amara West site, 750 km from Khartoum, Sudan.

The skeleton is believed to be of a wealthy man, between age 25 and 35, was found in a tomb close to the River Nile in Sudan.

The bones showed evidence of metastatic carcinoma - a form of cancer that spreads across the body.

"It came from a malignant soft-tissue tumour and spread across large parts of the body, making it the oldest 'convincing' example of metastatic cancer ever found," said researchers from Durham University and the British Museum.

According to the authors, this would help them explore underlying causes of cancer in ancient times.

"The findings show that cancer did exist in the Nile Valley in 1,200 BC," said lead author Michaela Binder from Durham University in Britain.

The metastatic carcinoma found in this skeleton is of unknown origin - it is impossible to say where it started.

Tests provided clear imaging of the lesions on the bones with cancer metastases on the collar bones shoulder blades, upper arms, vertebrae, ribs, pelvis and thigh bones, the authors noted.

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