Houthis claim second ship attack in Mediterranean

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Ancient Egyptian skulls reveal ‘extraordinary’ cancer surgery, study says

LONDON: Ancient Egyptians may have discovered the existence of cancer and practiced surgery to treat it, a new study shows.

A team of international researchers examined two human skulls and discovered “extraordinary” evidence that sheds new light on ancient Egypt’s already outstanding medical practices.

Historical texts documenting medicine in Ancient Egypt already reveal enormous knowledge, including the ability to treat diseases, traumatic injuries and dental problems.

But researchers say civilization may have broken a “frontier of medical knowledge” in treating cancer, Sky News reported.

Lead author Prof. Edgard Camaros, a paleopathologist at the University of Santiago de Compostela, said: “This find is unique evidence of how ancient Egyptian medicine tried to deal with or study cancer over 4,000 years ago.”

“This is an extraordinary new perspective in our understanding of medical history.”

As part of the study, the scientists examined two skulls from the Duckworth Collection at the University of Cambridge.

The first image shows a man estimated to be between 30 and 35 years old and has been dated to between 2687 and 2345 BC.

The second skull comes from a woman over 50 and is dated to between 663 and 343 BC.

Microscopic examination of the male skull revealed a “large lesion” that likely led to tissue destruction and about 30 metastatic lesions, said Tatiana Tondini, a researcher at the University of Tübingen.

But researchers later discovered cuts around the injuries, suggesting the medical use of a metal instrument.

“When we first looked at the cutting marks under the microscope, we couldn’t believe what we were seeing,” adds Tondini, lead author of the study in the journal Frontiers of Medicine.

“We see that while the ancient Egyptians were able to treat complex skull fractures, cancer was still a new frontier in medical knowledge.

“We wanted to learn more about the role of cancer in the past, how widespread this disease was in ancient times and how ancient societies dealt with this pathology.”

The female skull examined also showed a large lesion “consistent with a cancerous tumor that has caused bone destruction,” Sky News reported.

The discovery could also lead to a reassessment of the spread of cancer and carcinogens throughout human history.

However, the researchers cautioned against making definitive statements based on the study.

Prof. Albert Isidro, co-author of the study and surgical oncologist at Sagrat Cor University Hospital, said: “It seems that the ancient Egyptians performed some kind of surgical intervention in relation to the presence of cancer cells. This proves that in ancient Egyptian medicine, experimental treatments or medical investigations related to cancer were also carried out.

“This study contributes to a change of perspective and lays an encouraging foundation for future research in the field of paleo-oncology. However, further studies will be needed to decipher how ancient societies dealt with cancer.”

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