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Mummy Cancer

Researchers diagnose the second oldest known case of prostate cancer in a two-thousand-year-old-Egyptian mummy.

Cristina Luiggi

FLICKR, CHARMZZY

For a man now known as M1, the diagnosis of metastatic prostate cancer came too late—2,250 years too late, to be exact. When a team of Portuguese academics and radiologists subjected the Egyptian mummy to the powerful X-rays of high-resolution computerized tomography (CT) scanners, they found small, dense tumors peppered the mummy’s pelvis and lumbar spine. The scans revealed that M1 died a slow, painful death sometime between the ages of 51 and 60, ScienceNow reports, as the cancer spread from his prostate to his bones and beyond. This is the second oldest known case of prostate cancer in history—a 40- to 50-year-old Scythian king who lived 2,700 years ago and whose skeleton was found in Southern Siberia is the oldest.

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