A Colombian man has died after parasitic worms growing inside his vital organs were found to be cancerous, doctors have reported.
The case – which was detailed in the New England Journal of Medicine – originally baffled doctors as this was the first known report of a person having cancer cells developed from a parasitic organism.
The 41-year-old man’s immune system had been weakened by HIV, meaning the worm-cancer was able to thrive inside his body for years.
The UK’s Natural History Museum and The US Centres for Disease Control collaborated to diagnose the strange type of cancer after doctors in the man’s native Colombia were uncertain of what the patient was suffering back in 2013.
Dr Atis Muehlenbachs- who worked on the case – told BBC News that it had been ‘the most unusual case’ and you can understand why.
At first glance the tumours appeared to be normal looking and an average size in his lungs and liver, but after more in-depth analysis doctors discovered that the infected cells were a tenth of the size of normal human cells. After molecular testing it identified high levels of tapeworm DNA in the tumours. *Shudders*.
The patient sadly was unable to be treated by the time doctors had figured out his mystery cancer and died three days after the worm DNA was discovered.
According to the US Centres for Disease control, the cancer-worm is rare, and infection can be avoided by cooking raw vegetables and washing your hands.
Well, if there was any reason to not eat not raw veg already…