Scientists have uncovered that an Egyptian coffin earlier thought as belonging to a female mummy is actually a man who passed away after suffering from a rare cancer-like condition.

The mummy which is currently in the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb in Croatia is being studied by a team of researchers and doctors who found that the rare disease had also left the man with some form of diabetes.

LiveScience reported that when he died he was mummified, following the procedure of the time. "The embalmers removed his brain (through the nose it appears), poured resin-like fluid into his head and pelvis, took out some of his organs and inserted four linen "packets" into his body."

It was further reported that the mummified body was transferred at some of point of time to the 2,300 year-old sarcophagus of a woman named Kareset.

Till date, it was believed that the mummy inside the coffin belonged to a female. The new study has found that the body does not belong to Kareset and was, in fact, a male mummy.

Further analysis showed that the mummy suffered from Hand-Schuller-Christian disease which is an enigmatic condition wherein the body's Langerhans immune cells multiply rapidly. The condition is also associated with diabetes insipidus.

"They tend to replace normal structure of the bone and all other soft tissues," Dr Mislav Cavka, a medical doctor at the University of Zagreb who is one of the study's leaders, told LiveScience. "We could say it is one sort of cancer."

Images of the mummy revealed the terrible toll that the disease had on the body of the man. It showed how parts of its skeleton were destroyed leaving lytic lesions throughout his spine and skull. The scans also showed what looks like a giant hole in his skull's frontal-parietal bone, and destruction of a section of one of his eye sockets, known as the "orbital wall."

The scans indicated that the disease also affected part of the skull which holds the pituitary gland making it shallow.

According to researchers, the process of mummification might have further worsened some of the disease-caused damage.