Scientists discover most ancient case of human cancer ever recorded

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Most Ancient Case of Human Cancer Found in 1.7 Million-year-old Foot Bone

An international team of researchers has discovered the earliest known occurrence of cancer to be described in the human fossil record.

According to a press release, "Though the exact species to which the foot bone belongs is unknown, it is clearly that of a hominin, or bipedal human relative."

The affected specimen, originally found in South Africa's Swartkrans Cave, dates back roughly 1.7 million years.

For the study, the team used Micro-CT imaging to analyze the bone of the ancient human relative.

When comparing those results to biopsy images of modern day bone cancer patients, they found characteristics consistent with an especially aggressive form of the disease called osteosarcoma.

Though cancer is much more prevalent now than it once was, largely due to environmental toxins and other byproducts of the Western lifestyle, it has long been a bane of living things.

Zach Throckmorton, the co-author of the study, said, "While we've known other ancient animals, even dinosaurs, suffered from cancer, this is the oldest known case of cancer in a close human relative."

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