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Tumor had teeth: 4 m/o baby's brain tumor grew teeth

In this handout image provided by the U.S. Navy, Cmdr. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, left, a CNN medical correspondent and practicing neurosurgeon, and Lt. Cmdr. Kathryn Berndt, a Navy surgeon, perform surgery on a 12-year-old Haitian girl
Photo by U.S. Navy/Getty Images

Tumor had teeth headlines are about a Maryland infant and represents the first diagnosed case of its kind. Doctors removed a brain tumor from a 4-month-old child recently and were astounded that the mass aka craniopharyngioma had the presence of teeth. On Feb. 27, Fox News ran a story about the odd news that appears in a peer-reviewed journal out today.

A tumor with teeth sounds like an avatar on social media or a line from a stand-up comedian. However, this case of modern medical marvels actually took place.

The child's mother began to worry when her child's head was rapidly growing larger. A trip to the doctor shed some light on the situation: the baby had a brain tumor, the type that can grow as large as a golf ball. The good news is that it was under no threat to spread beyond his head. However, it had to be removed.

After a closer look at the brain scans, surgeons discovered material or structures attached to the tumor that looked like teeth material, the type that normally grows in a human's lower jaw. Upon further exploration, surgeons found several fully-formed teeth during the delicate surgery.

The Independent wrote that an MRI scan showed a tumor measured "4.1cm by 4cm by 3.5cm and showed up structures on the right side of the mass..."

In the annals of medicine, there are reports of physicians suspecting the presence of teeth in tumors and brain growths. However, until now, there has never been an actual case seen firsthand.

It's not every day you see teeth in any type of tumor in the brain. In a craniopharyngiomas, it's unheard of," said Dr. Narlin Beaty, a neurosurgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

To clarify, teeth have been discovered in human tumor cases in the past in masses called teratomas. What's different here is that unlike teratomas -- which contain three layers of tissues found in the early developing stage of an embryo -- craniopharyngiomas only have one type of tissue.

The tumor began growing teeth because it contained the same material seen in the formation of the human tooth.

Although the child is "doing extremely well, all things considered," said Dr. Beaty, he will require hormone therapy for the rest of his life. The presence of the brain tumor destroyed areas of the brain that release the body's needed hormones.

The full abstract and report appears in the Feb. 27 issue of New England Journal of Medicine.


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