Discovery of a rare deadly disease that could have ended the life of the world’s first pregnant Egyptian mummy

A Polish study has found that the first 2,000-year-old pregnant Egyptian mummy may have died of a rare form of cancer at 28 weeks pregnant.

According to a study conducted by scientists in Poland on the skull of an ancient corpse, the team found unusual marks in the bones, similar to those found in patients with nasopharyngeal cancer. Scientists have come to the conclusion that the mummy most likely died from the same disease.

Nasopharyngeal cancer 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 disease occurs in the nasopharynx, upper pharynx, or pharynx, where the rest of the upper respiratory tract is located in the nasal passages and auditory tubes.

Since its discovery, scientists have known that the mummy, nicknamed the “mysterious lady”, died during a 28-week pregnancy, but the cause of her death has not yet been determined.

Showing pictures from . Warsaw Mummy Project at the University of Warsaw (WMP) In Poland, a damaged skull is most likely caused by swelling and large defects in parts of the bone that are not normally formed during embalming procedures.

“We have unusual changes in the bones of the nasopharynx, which, according to mummy experts, are not typical for the embalming process,” said Ravi Stecke, professor of oncology at the Medical University of Warsaw, who worked with the experts on the project. Secondly, the conclusions of radiologists, based on computed tomography data, indicate the possibility of tumor changes in the bone.

Professor Stick added that the young age of the mummy and the absence of other causes of death indicated “tumors”.

The scientists now plan to collect tissue samples and compare them with cancer samples from other Egyptian mummies.

It is hoped that the discovery of the “molecular signature” of cancer will increase knowledge about the development of cancer and may contribute to the development of modern medicine.

Additional testing can also determine the cause of oropharyngeal cancer, such as whether it is due to a viral or genetic infection.

Ancient Egyptian mummy showing evidence of nose cancer

— Warsaw Mummy Project – Human Remains (@warsaw_mummy) July 10, 2022

It is reported that the mummy of the “Mysterious Lady” was found in the royal tombs in Thebes of Upper Egypt, belonging to the elite of Theban society.

It was discovered in the early nineteenth century and dates back to the first century BC, a time when Cleopatra was queen and Thebes was a seething hive.

The mummy was moved to Warsaw, Poland in 1826, around the time of some of the most important finds from Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, and is currently on display at the National Museum in Warsaw.

Last year, a CT scan showed the woman was in her 20s and 30s when she died and was 26 to 30 weeks pregnant.

Her fetus, located in the lower part of the lower pelvis and partially in the lower part of the large pelvis, was embalmed along with the mother.

The CT images failed to scan the infant because it was covered by tissue from the surrounding uterus, meaning they could not get more detailed analysis other than a cephalometric test.

His head circumference was 9.8 inches, which the team used to determine that he was between 26 and 30 weeks old.

It was not removed from the uterus, as is the case with the heart, lungs, liver and intestines.

The Warsaw Mummy Project experts were unable to determine why the fetus was not removed and embalmed individually, as happened in other cases of stillborn children.

At the time, they said, “Perhaps it was believed that he was still an integral part of his mother’s body because he had not yet been born.”

The fetus was not given a name, although the name, according to the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians, was an important part of human existence.

Thus, it is believed that ancient beliefs held that the afterlife of an unborn child could only come about if he traveled to the underworld as part of his mother.

It is noteworthy that this is not the first case of cancer found in a mummy – in 2017, scientists found the world’s oldest known case of breast cancer and multiple myeloma, a type of bone marrow cancer, in ancient mummies.