Duren Apothecary Logo

Get Healthy!

Doctors May Have Tried to Treat Cancer in Ancient Egypt
  • Posted May 29, 2024

Doctors May Have Tried to Treat Cancer in Ancient Egypt

A 4,000-year-old skull provides evidence that ancient Egyptians might have tried to treat cancer, a new study claims.

Microscopic observation of the skull revealed 30 or so lesions scattered across its surface that are consistent with cancer, researchers report.

They were stunned to also find cut marks around these lesions, probably made with a sharp object like a medical instrument.

"When we first observed the cut marks under the microscope, we could not believe what was in front of us,"said first study author Tatiana Tondini, a researcher with the University of Tubingen in Germany.

"It seems ancient Egyptians performed some kind of surgical intervention related to the presence of cancerous cells, proving that ancient Egyptian medicine was also conducting experimental treatments or medical explorations in relation to cancer,"said researcher Dr. Albert Isidro, a surgical oncologist at the University Hospital Sagrat Cor in Spain.

The skull belonged to a man who was 30 to 35 years old when he died, researchers said. It dates from between 2687 and 2345 BCE, and is now held in a collection at the University of Cambridge in the UK.

Experts already knew from ancient texts that ancient Egyptians were very skilled at medicine.

For example, Egyptians could identify, describe and treat illnesses, build prosthetic appendages and put in dental fillings, researchers noted.

This latest study, published May 29 in the journal Frontiers in Medicine, shows Egyptians were even trying to learn about and treat complex conditions like cancer, the research team noted.

"This finding is unique evidence of how ancient Egyptian medicine would have tried to deal with or explore cancer more than 4,000 years ago,"lead researcher Edgard CamarĂ³s, a paleopathologist at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, said in a journal news release. "This is an extraordinary new perspective in our understanding of the history of medicine."

Another skull, that of a woman older than 50 dating from between 663 and 343 BCE, also showed a big lesion consistent with a cancerous tumor, researchers said.

The woman's skull also showed two healed lesions caused by traumatic injuries, including one apparently caused by a close-range violent event using a sharp weapon, researchers report.

The healed lesions could mean that the woman received some kind of medical treatment and survived her wounds, they added.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more on the history of cancer treatments.

SOURCE: Frontiers, news release, May 29, 2024

Health News is provided as a service to Duren Apothecary site users by HealthDay. Duren Apothecary nor its employees, agents, or contractors, review, control, or take responsibility for the content of these articles. Please seek medical advice directly from your pharmacist or physician.
Copyright © 2024 HealthDay All Rights Reserved.