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Not Tumour, Tapeworm Found Inside Woman's Brain

Saturday, June 8, 2019 • Tamil Comments

Rachel Palma, a 42-year-old woman, was told that the lesion on her brain was suspected to be a cancerous tumor. Obviously, this would have devastated the woman who was a newlywed and was unable to believe that it was true. It was in September that surgeons at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, operated on the woman, opening her skull in order to remove what they thought was a malignant brain tumour. Instead, they found an encapsulated mass that looked like a quail egg. Jonathan Rasouli, Chief Neurosurgery Resident said in an interview to The Washington Post: “We were all saying, 'What is this?' It was very shocking. We were scratching our heads, surprised at what it looked like."

The surgeons removed the mass and examined it to find that a baby tapeworm was present inside. What Palma had was not brain cancer but neurocysticercosis, a parasitic infection in the brain caused by the tapeworm Taenia solium. This rare disease is acquired through undercooked pork and through lack of proper hygiene after passing stools. The eggs which travel to the small intestine, later enter the bloodstream and can go to the brain.

Palma was relieved after the surgery. She said: “Of course I was grossed out. But of course, I was also relieved. It meant that no further treatment was necessary.” She also wants people to understand that “this was such a rare occurrence” and "Every headache is not going to be a parasite." Palma suffered from severe symptoms of insomnia, confusion, hallucinations, and clumsiness. Now she is almost back to normal. "The best part of my story is it has a happy ending," she said.

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