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Man's lung tumor turns out to be a toy he swallowed 40 years ago

When doctors performed surgery on a man to remove what they suspected to be a bronchogenic carcinoma, they instead found a toy traffic cone he had swallowed in 1974. The Playmobil toy cone had gone undetected in the man's right lung for 40 years and was found almost three years ago by Dr. Mohammed Munavvar at the Royal Preston Hospital in the UK, according to a BMJ Case Report published Saturday. The male patient, now 50 years old, reported that throughout his childhood, he regularly played with, and swallowed, Playmobil toy pieces. On his seventh birthday, back in 1974, he received a Playmobil set, and recalled swallowing the toy cone shortly afterward. At 46 years old, the patient consulted a doctor about a chronic cough that was concerning him. During his first couple months of treatment, he was diagnosed with pneumonia, thickening and stiffness in the right lung, and bronchiectasis, or damage of the breathing tubes. This all meant less air was entering his lungs. When the patient finally reached Munavvar's clinic at the age of 47, they ran multiple tests, including a CAT scan, and conducted a white light bronchoscopy, a procedure involving the insertion of a scope inside the airways to view the lungs. The doctor noticed extensive shadowing and a thickening lump in the lower right lung. These symptoms, along with the spread of a bacterial infection in the pockets of the lower right lung, led his team to believe that the man had a tumor, which needed prompt removal. "We acted quickly because a bacterial infection could spread to other regions outside of the lungs," said Munavvar. The patient underwent surgery, and only after removing the mass was it identified as a Playmobil toy cone that "had been absorbed into the mucosal lining of the bronchial (air passage) which developed around it," explained the case report. His airway "was able to remodel and adapt to the presence of this foreign body," which is most likely why he did not show symptoms until he was 40, the report said

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