Tags: tapeworm | cancer | parasite | transfer | humans

Tapeworm Cancer: Malignant Cells Can Transfer From Parasites to Humans

Image: Tapeworm Cancer: Malignant Cells Can Transfer From Parasites to Humans
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By    |   Thursday, 05 Nov 2015 12:44 PM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recently discovered that cancer cells from a parasitic tapeworm can transfer to humans, causing malignant tumors.

"We were amazed when we found this new type of disease — tapeworms growing inside a person essentially getting cancer that spreads to the person, causing tumors," said Dr. Atis Muehlenbachs, a CDC pathologist who helped diagnose the patient who developed the tumors, according to NBC News.

"The tumors looked similar to a human cancer, but initial CDC lab studies revealed the cancer-like cells were not human," the CDC said in a statement.

The case began in 2013, when an HIV-positive, 41-year-old man in Medellín, Colombia, reported fever, cough, and weight loss lasting several months.

The man, who had stopped taking his HIV medications, had been infected with dwarf tapeworms (Hymenolepis nana), which are commonly acquired by eating food contaminated with mouse droppings or insects, or by ingesting the feces of another infected person.

When the patient, who died of his ailments, was examined by doctors, they found that his stool was full of tapeworm eggs, while his lungs and lymph nodes were full of tiny, unfamiliar tumors.

Testing soon revealed that the tumors had the same DNA as the tapeworms, and thus must have spread from the parasites.

"In the initial months, we wondered if this was a weird human cancer or some unusual, bizarre emerging protozoa-amoeba-like infection," Muehlenbachs recalled, according to The Washington Post. "Discovering these cells had tapeworm DNA was a big surprise — a really big surprise."

The discovery is the first documented case of cancer spreading from a parasite to a human.

"We think this type of event is rare," Muehlenbachs said. "However, this tapeworm is found worldwide and millions of people globally suffer from conditions like HIV that weaken their immune system. So there may be more cases that are unrecognized. It's definitely an area that deserves more study."

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recently discovered that cancer cells from a parasitic tapeworm can transfer to humans, causing malignant tumors.
tapeworm, cancer, parasite, transfer, humans
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2015-44-05
Thursday, 05 Nov 2015 12:44 PM
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