tapeworm and cancer

image courtesy google

image courtesy google

John Doe had come to a Colombia hospital with multiple large tumours in various parts of his bodies, when the local doctors biopsied those tumours they found cells that acted like cancer cells when it came to destruction but behaved differently otherwise.

The most prominent feature was that the cells were 10 times smaller than that of the normal human cancer cell. The doctors called in Centre For Disease control and prevention for help. What the pathologist there saw was,that the cell did indeed grow in a with a high rate of multiplication and there was overcrowding which was cancer like, but there was fusing of cells which is rare in human cells.

The initial theory was that it was new type of infectious organism, but eventually it revealed to contain a DNA snippet of a dwarf tapeworm known as Hymenolepis nana. This was further confirmed by a researcher and tapeworm expert at the National History Museum in London. The discovery that the cells had tapeworm DNA was a big surprise.

Whether the cells had cancerous property before they entered the man’s body or whether they became cancerous in his body is not clear. this was the first time parasite driven cancer cells had spread within an individual.

As we debate whether the cancer was true or not, the bottom line is the man did have cancer, and he would have did if he was not treated effectively.

Cancer is not known to be transmissible in human expect in very rare cases, from mother to foetus. Even among animals scientists have discovered only two contagious cancers so far, one in dogs which is non-fatal and the other in Marsupials of Australia called Tasmanian devils.

image courtesy google

image courtesy google

the cause of the tapeworm mutating into a cancerous form is not really known. Actually even the fact that tapeworm get cancer was not known. It is possible that other parasites do too. Or it could have been an one off situation due to the medications that the gentleman was taking or something else totally.

There are about 75 million people living with tapeworm infection, it might be time to check them too, though most of them are asymptomatic.

That does raise the red flag right.


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