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Fungal infection mimics cancer symptoms
About the author: 

A small percentage of people who think they have cancer may instead have a fungal infection

A small percentage of people who think they have cancer may instead have a fungal infection. The fungus - which people can contract from eating infected food - mimics the symptoms of abdominal cancer, including pains and masses under the surface of the skin that are mistaken for tumours.
The fungus - Basidiobolus ranarum - was first reported in 1986, and has been detected in many countries around the world. It is found in soil, decaying organic matter and in the gastrointestinal tracts of fish, reptiles, amphibians and bats.
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic studied 44 cases, including 17 from Arizona, although nobody knows how many people have been infected - or the percentage of those who have been wrongly treated for cancer. Eight of the cases reviewed died from the infection.
All of the cases were initially diagnosed as abdominal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease before doctors realised they were dealing with a fungal infection. The cases were treated with surgery or antifungal drugs.
The Mayo researchers say that very little is known about the fungus, or whether some people are predisposed to infection, possibly through an existing condition.
(Source: Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2012; doi: 10.1093/cid/cis250).


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