Cancer patient discovers 'tumor' was not a tumor at all

Image Playmobil

No, what he actually had was a traffic cone stuck in his lung.

The Playmobil toy cone had gone undetected in the man's right lung for 40 years and was found nearly three years ago by Dr. Mohammed Munavvar at the Royal Preston Hospital in the United Kingdom, according to a BMJ Case Report published Saturday.

The facts of the case are simple: a 47-year old from Preston felt poorly for a year, coughed up some very nasty stuff and so visited a respiratory clinic.

The unidentified handyman, who lives in the United Kingdom, was suffering with coughing and mucus after being treated for pneumonia, and when doctors looked at X-rays of his lungs, they found something in his right lung that looked like a malignant tumour. A bronchoscopy scheduled later revealed that Baxter did not have a tumor in his lungs but a "long-lost Playmobil traffic cone" that was about 1cm in length.

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The mailman "reported that he regularly played with and even swallowed pieces of Playmobil during his childhood", doctors wrote in BMJ Case Reports. The object, which was removed with biopsy forceps, had been in the man's body since his seventh birthday.

Doctors concluded that Baxter inhaled the piece as a child, probably around the age of 7 when he first received the Playmobil set.

Children may not be able to give accurate descriptions of what happened before the cough, nor the symptoms that developed, so it is safest for parents to seek immediate medical attention, said Munavvar.

The patient was given a chest X-ray which produced a frightening result.

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"A case in which the onset of symptoms occurs so long after initial aspiration is unheard of", the medical journal wrote.

It's now been four months since the toy was removed.

"He was initially treated for a pneumonia, and as he was a smoker, he was followed up more closely following antibiotics since his symptoms and the changes on his X-ray persisted", Dr. Nicholas Denny, clinical fellow at Central Manchester Foundation Trust and author of the BMJ Case Report, tells Global News.

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