(ORDO NEWS) — A new study of an ancient Egyptian mummy of a pregnant woman has revealed that the woman died of a rare form of cancer. Polish scientists found unusual marks on the bone when they scanned the mummy’s skull.
It is hoped that by uncovering the molecular signature of cancer, scientists will learn more about the evolution of the disease.
The mummy of a woman referred to as the “Mysterious Lady” has died at 28 weeks pregnant. She received such a name due to the fact that nothing was known about her, including the cause of her death.
As part of the Warsaw Mummy Project (WMP) in Poland, scientists showed lesions on the skull that were most likely caused by a tumor. This is what caused the woman’s death.
“We have unusual changes in the bones of the nasopharynx, which, according to mummy experts, are not typical for the mummification process,” said Professor Rafał Stec from the Department of Oncology at the Medical University of Warsaw, who worked with the WMP experts.
“Secondly, the conclusions of radiologists based on computed tomography indicate the possibility of tumor changes in the bones.”
What type of cancer did the Mysterious Lady die of?
Experts concluded that the woman died of nasopharyngeal cancer. This is a rare type of cancer that affects the part of the throat that connects the back of the nose to the back of the mouth.
The mummy of a woman was discovered in the early 1800s and dates back to the 1st century BC. The woman was brought to Warsaw in Poland in 1826, and is currently on display at the National Museum in Warsaw.
Last year, a CT scan showed the woman was between 20 and 30 years old when she died and was between 26 and 30 weeks pregnant.
According to the authors of the study, published in the journal Archaeological Science, the body was carefully wrapped in cloth, and next to the woman were many amulets that accompanied her to the afterlife.
The fetus, which was “pickled” inside the woman, was located in the lower part of the small pelvis and partly in the lower part of the large pelvis, and was mummified along with its mother.
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