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Cancer Skeleton

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When archeologist Michaela Binder dug through a tomb of skeletons in Sudan she found one that looked different.

"This looks like it came from a man."

The PhD student unearthed bones infested with lesions and holes - and suspected cancer. "At first, I wasn't sure if this is actually a disease. Because we have a lot of termites in the area, who tend to eat bones or tend to make a lot of small holes in the bones too."

Scientists inside an archeology lab at the British Museum used Xray machines and high-powered microscopes to confirm the skeleton's cancer.

Daniel Antoine is the British Museum's expert on ancient diseases. He worked with Binder to examine the man's remains.

Experts determined the man died of metastatic cancer, that started in his organs and spread to his bones. He was between 25 and 35 years old. "This represents the earliest and most complete skeleton of this type of cancer."

Researchers say if archeologists can find more ancient remains with cancer - they could better understand how the disease evolves over time.

Researchers say they don't know what caused the cancer 3,000 years ago. They say it could have been smoke from wood fires, bad genes or an infectious disease.

 

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