NOV 05, 2015 09:55 AM PST

Man Dies From Tumors Passed On to Him By Tapeworm

A 41-year old man based out of Columbia has reportedly died of a strange type of cancer that doctors had a lot of trouble understanding until late. As it turns out, the man died of a cancer that was passed on to him from parasitic tapeworms that were living inside of his body.

Dwarf tapeworms affect up to 75 million people in the U.S.

This was an abnormal situation due to the fact that the man happened to be an HIV-positive case in which the immune system was unable to keep up and dramatic deterioration of the body prevented it from fighting back against the cancerous parasitic worms that were infecting his body.
As a result of the weakened body of the 41-year old, the parasitic worms, which had their own form of cancer, was able to pass on the cancerous cells to the host. The man was reported to have signs of cancer throughout his adrenal glands, liver, and lungs as tests had shown.
Doctors were surprised by the fact that the tissue samples they took contained cancerous cells that were approximately ten times smaller than the man’s normal cells. There was a lot of confusion as to where these cancerous cells were coming from, until DNA tests finally showed that the cells were from the parasitic worms themselves.

Here you can see the cancerous tissue from the tapeworms.

In any regular case, a cancerous cell would still be about the same size as the normal cells around it. With that being said, the cells clearly came from another source; DNA tests were able to match the smaller cancerous cells to the worms the man had inside of his body.
The cancerous parasitic worm tissue was able to fuse to the man’s internal tissues, allowing the cancer to spread into his body. When all was said and done, it wouldn’t be far from fact to say that the man was 50% cancerous man and 50% cancerous worm.

It wasn't just one worm either – the cancerous worm was able to reproduce inside of the man; its offspring were affected by the cancer too, and they spread through the man like wildfire.
In a regular person with a fully-operational immune system, the worms would eventually be taken care of by nature’s due process. Because of the weakened immune system this man had, the cancerous worms had no problem staying inside of the man as long as they did.

The doctors now realize that more people may be suffering from similar issues that have slipped under the radar, as it has never been thought that something like this could be possible.

Source: The New England Journal of Medicine via BBC

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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