Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mummy Was The Second Oldest In The History Of Prostate Cancer

Some 2250 years ago in Egypt, the man known today as the M1 struggled for a long time, a painful, progressive disease. Dull pain throbbed in his lower back, then spread to other parts of his body, so most of the movements of misery. When the M1 finally succumbed to a mysterious illness, aged between 51 and 60, his family paid for him to be mummified so that he could be born again and enjoy the pleasures of the Afterworld.

Now an international team of researchers has diagnosed what ailed M1: the oldest known case of prostate cancer in ancient Egypt, and if the second oldest in the world. (Early diagnosis of prostate cancer has come from the skeleton of a Scythian king 2700 years, Russia). In addition, the new study in the press in the International Journal of paleopathology suggests that researchers may have previously underestimated the prevalence of cancer in older populations, and high resolution computed tomography (CT), able to find tumors that measures just 1.2 mm in diameter were not available until 2005. "I think the first researchers, probably lost a lot without this technology," says team leader, Carlos Prats, a radiologist in private practice in Lisbon Integrated Medical Imagens.

Prostate cancer starts in the prostate size of a walnut, a part of the male reproductive system. The gland produces a milky fluid part of semen and is located below the bladder of a man. If an aggressive disease, prostate cancer cells can metastasize, or spread in the bloodstream and invade the bone.

After conducting high-resolution scans of three Egyptian mummies

in the collection of the National Archaeological Museum in Lisbon, Prater and his colleagues detected many small round tumors, dense in the basin of M1 and the lumbar spine and in his arms and bones the legs. These are the areas most affected by metastatic prostate cancer. "We did not find any evidence to challenge this diagnosis," said Prater.

"I agree that it is a case of metastatic prostate cancer," said Andreas Nerlich, a pathologist at the University Hospital Munich-Bogenhausen in Germany, who was not involved in the research project. "It's a very well done study."

Researchers have long struggled to detect cancers at skeletons and mummified flesh of the dead ones. But the reported cases of cancer in older populations are rare. In fact, a study published in 1998 in the Journal of paleopathology calculated that only 176 cases of malignant bone tumors were reported among tens of thousands of seniors studied. The small number of cases led to a theory that cancer started flourishing industry in modern times, when the carcinogens are more common in food and environment, and when people began living longer, giving more time for tumors to grow and multiply.

However, older people, said Albert Zink, an anthropologist at the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, Italy, were no strangers to carcinogens. The soot from fireplaces and wood fireplaces, for example, contains substances known to cause cancer in humans. And the boat builders of old asphalt is heated to seal the water and boats has been linked to lung cancer and tumors in the respiratory and digestive tract. "I think the cancer had spread in the past," Zink said, "more widespread than we have seen."

But this may change, Prats said that physical anthropologists have access to the new generation of scanners, high-resolution CT. The equipment Prats and his colleagues used to study M1, for example, has a pixel resolution of 0.33 mm, radiologists in order to see Fleck lesion size.

For scientists who study the origins of cancer and the complex interaction between environment, diet and genes on the occurrence of the disease, such as better detection shed new light on a disease that has struck humanity for thousands of years if not more. "And certainly, there is always hope for a better understanding of the roots of cancer will help in any way to a cure," finished in zinc.

For more interesting topics related to archaeology, visit archaeology excavations.

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