3,000-year-old skeleton could reveal cancer evolution
British archaeologists, who discovered the evidence of tumors that had developed and spread throughout the body in a 3,000-year-old skeleton found in a tomb in modern Sudan in 2013, are hopeful that it will offer new clues about the fatal disease.
Researchers from Durham University and the British Museum analyzed the skeleton using radiography and a scanning electron microscope, which showed clear images of lesions on the bones indicating that the cancer had spread to cause tumors on the collar bones, shoulder blades, upper arms, vertebrae, ribs, pelvis and thigh bones, and are hoping that it would help in understanding the evolution and history of modern diseases, Fox News reported.
Michaela Binder, a Durham PhD student who led the research and excavated and examined the skeleton said that the analysis has shown that the shape of the small lesions on the bones can only have been caused by a soft tissue cancer, but the exact origin is impossible to determine through the bones alone.
Cancer has virtually been absent in archaeological records compared to other diseases but these new findings published in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS ONE have suggested that it has been around since ancient times.
Scientists are hopeful that the skeleton, which is one of the world's oldest complete examples of a human being with metastatic cancer, would reveal underlying causes of cancer in ancient populations and give fresh clues about its evolution in the past.
(Posted on 18-03-2014)
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