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Is it breast cancer... or tapeworm larvae?

Seriously, Science?
By Seriously Science
Jun 14, 2016 11:00 AMMay 21, 2019 5:30 PM
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We here at Seriously, Science?have a soft spot for disgusting medical case studies… and this one’s a doozy! It’s a story of a woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer. But the plot twists when a biopsy revealed that it was not just a tumor… it was pork tapeworm larvae! The authors point out that this an excellent example of why diagnoses should always be followed up by confirmation by a pathologist. Because every bedtime story should have a moral.

Human cysticercosis of the breast mimicking breast cancer: a report of a case from Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

BACKGROUND: Human cystericosis is the infection caused by the larvae of pork tapeworm Taeniasolium. The infection commonly affects the muscle, the central nervous system and subcutaneous tissues. The involvement of the breast is unusual.

OBJECTIVE: To present a 54 years old postmenopausal woman, a petty trader and a Jehovah witness who presented with a painless lump in the right breast which was increasing in size. The mass was clinically diagnosed by the Surgeon who examined her as a case of right breast cancer and an excisional biopsy was done.

METHOD: A review of the case note, autopsy findings including gross and microscopic examinations and literature was done.

RESULTS: A histopathological appraisal of biopsy revealed the presence of the typical cysticercus larva and a definitive diagnosis of right breast Cystericosis was made. The diagnosis of cysticercosis in unusual sites such as breast may be clinically difficult and this supports why all biopsies must be sent to the pathologists for definitive diagnosis.

CONCLUSION: Human cystericosis of the breast is rare, nevertheless, this should be considered as a differential diagnosis for amass in the breast particularly in the tropics and developing countries. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first case from our centre.

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