Cancer Is Older Than We Thought

bone fossil of the foot

It turns out cancer is older than we thought.

A team of experts from South Africa has published their findings on cancer and tumors of the bones. It turns out cancer is older than we thought. In other words, what they discovered was that cancer pre-dates modern lifestyles.

The finding of a foot bone from 1.7 million years ago, with evidence of cancer, shows that this disease was also encountered in ancient history. The foot bone belongs to a human relative, called a hominid.

Previously, it was commonly thought that only Neanderthals, which are approximately 100,000 years old, could develop cancer. The rib was the culprit, that time, with a tumor dated about 120,000 years old.

Edward Odes, lead author of the study, believes that modern medicine simply assumes that cancers and other such diseases are the effects of modern lifestyles and environments.

However, older findings and studies place this disease on an evolutionary path, alongside humans, long before modern societies developed.

The type of cancer which was detected in the foot bone is called osteosarcoma. It advances rapidly and affects young individuals, leading to early death.

We cannot yet tell if the foot bone belongs to a child or teenager, but what we do know is that individual certainly had problems walking around and experienced pain.

This is the premiere evidence of cancer in such a young individual.  The discovery means that the history of cancer is more complex than anyone had thought.

Findings were documented and confirmed by cutting-edge imaging technologies, from Grenoble France, and computer tomographs from Johannesburg, South Africa.

South Africa is commonly considered the Cradle of Humankind. It was in these country’s caves, a world heritage site, where scientists found the bone fossils and observed the tumor.

This investigation could lead to a better understanding of how cancer appeared and developed along with humans. However, this doesn’t invalidate the idea that at least some factors of the modern lifestyle influence the prevalence of cancers. Among these factors are smoking, an inactive lifestyle or obesity.

The scientific community is excited because this discovery could lead to more effective treatments for bone cancers. It will expand knowledge about the pathology of bone cancer and possibly create new visions in treatment.

What’s your opinion on this matter? Do you think we’ll ever see completely curable cancers? Leave a comment below. Thanks.

Image Source – Wikipedia