Physicians in the Crouse Hospital in Syracuse, New York, performed a full CT scan on a man’s mummified body found in an Egyptian tomb that lived approximately 2000 years ago. Much to the scientists’ surprise, the mummy — nicknamed “Hen” — was diagnosed with an illness that still plagues humanity to this day, cancer.
“He had a tumor on his Fibula which is one of the two bones of the lower leg,” Dr. Mark Levinsohn of Crouse Hospital explains. “Looking at it, it had all the characteristics of a malignant tumor and one that’s somewhat rare. So, here we have a rare circumstance and a rare tumor and that evoked our interest a lot.”
A previous attempt at examining the same body back in 2006 was met with failure. “Since that time, the last ten years, they’ve upgraded the equipment,” Dr. Levinsohn notes. “What, at that time was a 16 detector scanner is now a 320 detector scanner and all that additional information is now derived when we scan the body. So, we can tell all kinds of greater detail.”
Even though evidence of surgery attempts have been documented by archaeologists, it is highly unlikely that the ancient Egyptians knew what the sickness was, much less have the required knowledge and technology to treat it.
It is still unclear how Hen’s demise unfolded, whether or not the disease claimed him outright, or if he had a long and painful battle with it, or even died during a surgery.