27th Century B.C.E.

Statuette, Imhotep

Egyptian physician Imhotep diagnoses cancer, perhaps for the first time in history

Imhotep was an Egyptian chancellor to the Pharaoh Djoser, possible architect of Djoser’s step pyramid, and high priest of the sun god Ra at Heliopolis. Very little is known of Imhotep as a historical figure, but in the 3,000 years following his death, he was gradually glorified and deified. In his Pulitzer-prize winning “biography” of cancer – The Emperor of All Maladies – Siddhartha Mukherjee cites the oldest identified written diagnosis of cancer to Imhotep.

Egyptian physician Imhotep diagnoses cancer, perhaps for the first time in history More