Skeletal metastatic carcinomas from the Roman period (1st to 5th Century AD) in Hungary

Mónika Merczi, Antónia Marcsik, Zsolt Bernert, László Józsa, Krisztina Buczkó, Gábor Lassányi, Márta H. Kelemen, Péter Zádori, Csaba Vandulek, Gergely Biró, Tamás Hajdu, Erika Molnár

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: According to paleopathological records, tumors have a great antiquity. The prevalence of cancer in ancient populations might have differed from that in modern humans because of substantial differences in environmental factors, life expectancy and the availability of treatment. This study presents 3 cases of probable skeletal metastatic carcinoma from the Roman period (1st-5th century AD) in Hungary, showing the development of bone metastases of cancer without chemo- and radiotherapy. Methods: All skeletons were subjected to a careful macroscopic investigation, which was extended by radiological, stereo- and scanning electron microscopic analyses. Results: In 1 case, the mixed nature and localization of the lesions, as well as the sex and age of the individual, suggested breast cancer as the primary focus. In the other 2 cases, based on the mostly osteoblastic nature and the localization of the lesions as well as on the sex and age of the individuals, the most probable diagnostic option is prostate carcinoma with skeletal metastases. Conclusions: In view of the scarcity of cancer metastases that have been diagnosed in archeological specimens in general, identification of all examples of cancer in antiquity represents an important contribution both to paleopathology and to modern medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-111
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2014


  • Computed tomography
  • Historical anthropology
  • Hungary
  • Paleopathology
  • Roman period
  • Scanning electron microscopy
  • Skeletal metastasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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    Merczi, M., Marcsik, A., Bernert, Z., Józsa, L., Buczkó, K., Lassányi, G., Kelemen, M. H., Zádori, P., Vandulek, C., Biró, G., Hajdu, T., & Molnár, E. (2014). Skeletal metastatic carcinomas from the Roman period (1st to 5th Century AD) in Hungary. Pathobiology, 81(2), 100-111.