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A seventeenth century mandibular tumor in a North American Indian

January 1, 1967

The oldest tumor so far recorded is believed to have been a hemangioma. It occurred in a bone of a dinosaur’s tail1 and thus considerably antedates the historical period. The oldest known human tumor is much younger, dating back only to the middle of the third century after Christ.1 It was found in the catacombs of Kom el Shougafa in Alexandria, Egypt. This bony tumor (believed to be an osteosarcoma) occurred in the ischium and lower part of the ilium of a pelvic bone. Mention also should be made of a sixteenth century Danish skeleton from Noestried, which had 134 osteomas, and the Bovidal skull, in which there was a sinus osteoma weighing over 12 pounds.2

Tumorlike lesions were obviously a problem in Egypt and Assyria, as dissecting instruments and instructions for tumor removal have been found.3 Paleopathologic studies have not yet disclosed bony tumors which occurred in these periods when vigorous embalming techniques were in vogue, and it is possible that only soft-tissue tumors were of concern. Such soft-tissue tumors, of course, would not survive to the present day, and relative accounts of prehistoric neoplasms must be largely based on intraosseus or calcified tumors. Roentgenographic bone patterns, correlated with size, site, age, etc., have led archaeologists and paleopathologists to believe that most surviving ossified tumors are osteomas and osteosarcomas.4

Publication Year 1967
Title A seventeenth century mandibular tumor in a North American Indian
DOI 10.1016/0030-4220(67)90488-4
Authors E.E. Kelln, E.V. McMichael, B. Zimmermann
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology
Index ID 70010624
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse