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4,200-Year-Old Case of Breast Cancer Found in Egypt

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

CAIRO, EGYPT—A team of Spanish researchers has found evidence of the world’s oldest-known case of breast cancer in the skeleton of a woman found in the necropolis of Qubbet el-Hawa. “The study of her remains shows the typical destructive damage provoked by the extension of a breast cancer as a metastasis,” Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty said in a statement reported by Reuters. A team led by Alejandro Jiménez from the University of Jaen found the 4,200-year-old remains of the woman, who was a member of the elite in the town of Elephantine during the 6th Dynasty. Anthropologist Miguel Botella of the University of Granada and his team studied the deterioration of the skeleton and made the diagnosis. The woman would have been unable to carry out any kind of labor, and had been taken care of for a long time before her death. Last year, British researchers reported a case of metastatic cancer in a 3,000-year-old skeleton found in modern Sudan. To read about the search for the tomb of one of Egypt's greatest queens, see "Nefertiti, Great Royal Wife and Queen of Egypt."

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