Recently, doctors were shocked by what killed an HIV-positive man in Colombia. He died of cancer…but the fatal disease technically wasn’t even his.
The cancer actually began inside a tapeworm that was living inside of him. The tumors that spread throughout his body were the parasite’s. This unique case might even be the first known to medicine where a parasite’s cancer killed its host.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the man was diagnosed with having a Hymenolepis nana tapeworm seven years after being diagnosed with HIV.
Because he also had fatigue, fever, and a cough, he was given a CT scan.
The scan showed that his lungs were riddled with tiny tumors that were less than 2 inches in diameter. The numerous tumors were so small, they didn’t even look human.
That’s when they tested the growths — and they contained H. nana DNA.
Tragically, the patient died 72 hours after this strange discovery.
Most people never know they have this kind of worm and their immune systems eventually get rid of it. However, since this man had HIV, his immune system was compromised. Thus, the parasitic cells grew wildly, allowing opportunities for cancer-causing mutations to increase.