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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

WATCH: World's oldest cancer cases found in Egyptian mummies

The world's oldest known cases of breast cancer and multiple myeloma have been discovered in the remains of Egyptian mummies.

Multiple myeloma - a type of bone marrow cancer was found in 3,800-year-old male mummy remains in the pharaonic necropolis of Qubbet Al Hawa in Aswan.

Researchers used CT scanning, which can perform 124 tomographic slices simultaneously without damaging the delicate remains.

When examining mummies these scans are the best method of studying without destroying them, the only really valid method to leave the material intact," said the University of Granada Professor Miguel Cecilio Botella Lopez.

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The team also found the oldest known case of breast cancer in the remains of a 4,000-year-old female mummy.

"It is an important finding because it shows that cancer already existed long before we thought and has been part of humanity since its inception," said Prof Lopez.

"Also it shows there was a complex society behind the two people who died, which took care of them and gave them resources until they died. From a social point of view that's really important."

Researchers also scanned two well-preserved child mummies from ancient Egypt's Late Period, allowing detailed views from inside their tombs.