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Unusual parasite infection: two tumors removed from the liver - it wasn't cancer after all


Enigmatic patient: Tumors removed from the liver were not cancer
In the Czech Republic, doctors removed two large tumors from a liver from a patient, which they considered to be advanced carcinomas. However, further examinations found that the woman was not suffering from cancer but was infected by a parasite.

Doctors assumed malignant tumors
In a 38-year-old woman in the Czech Republic, two large tumors were found in the liver during an ultrasound examination. The doctors in the clinic in the capital city of Prague assumed that they were malignant tumors, so-called bile duct carcinomas. With this diagnosis, the patient was referred to the surgical department of the Prague Military Central Hospital, reports "Spiegel Online". There she was operated on. However, the doctors later found that the woman had no cancer. In its report, the magazine refers to a publication of the case in the "International Journal of Surgery Case Reports".

Areas of the tissue had died
In the military central hospital, a computed tomography was first made of the woman's chest. The doctors discovered two smaller lumps in the lungs. They suspected that the cancer had already spread.

During an operation a few weeks later, the surgeons removed the tumors from the lungs.

When the excised tissue was examined, it was found that areas of it had died. However, the pathologists could not confirm that they were malignant tumors.

The following month, the part of the patient's liver where the two large tumors were located was removed. Here, too, the pathologists found that the tissue had died from large areas.

Part of the liver destroyed
However, it was found that holes of various sizes were emblazoned in the middle of these areas. So the patient obviously had no bile duct carcinoma.

In further tests, the doctors finally found that the woman's liver was infected by parasites. These had destroyed part of the organ.

These were larvae of the Little Fox Tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis). The patient suffered from so-called alveolar echinococcosis.

According to "Spiegel Online", the woman received an anti-worming agent after the corrected diagnosis to kill possible larvae. She recovered well from the operation.

Radek Pohnan and his colleagues, who reported on the patient's case in the "International Journal of Surgery Case Reports", were unable to find any evidence of a worm infection even 15 months after the intervention.

The news magazine points out that - despite the wrong diagnosis at the beginning - the correct therapy was that the affected, dead tissue was cut out.

Rare but potentially fatal infection
Alveolar echinococcosis (AE) "is a rare but potentially fatal parasitic infection that primarily affects the liver but can also metastasize to the lungs, brain, and other organs," write Pohnan and his colleagues.

Although worm diseases are relatively rare in Germany, experts have pointed out in the past that the risk of fox tapeworm infestation is also increasing in cities.

In this context, it was reported in the "Ärzte Zeitung" that Ulm and the surrounding area are considered the "epicenter" of the rare parasite disease, since up to 70 percent of the foxes in the region carry the pathogen.

The animals have adapted to city life. Therefore, their droppings with tapeworm eggs can often be found in sandpits or on vegetable patches. This remains contagious for months.

The fox tapeworm had also been warned of health risks from northern Germany.

Protect against worm diseases
To protect yourself from tapeworm infestation, some measures should be followed.

“In general, you should wash ground-level fruit and vegetables before eating them. In addition to observing common hygiene rules, it makes sense to deworm dogs and cats every three months, ”explained doctors at the Ulm University Hospital.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has summarized important information on fox ribbon infections on its website.

The Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) also provides information on how to avoid worm diseases on the “kindergesundheit-info.de” portal.

If a worm infection is suspected, a doctor must always be consulted. The respective therapy can - if it is agreed with the doctor - be supported by home remedies for worms. (ad)

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