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Doctors find giant ball of fungus in man's lungs

italy bloody cough aspergilloma computed tomography pneumonia suppressed immune system

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#1 Hum

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 17:32

A man who suffered from a bloody cough that persisted for more than a year was surprised to find that the cause was a giant ball of fungus growing in his lung, according to a recent report of his case.

The man, a farmworker in Italy, may have contracted a fungal infection, called aspergilloma, while working in the fields. For a year, he struggled with not only the cough but also fever and weight loss. His symptoms hadn't improved despite several courses of antibiotics, according to the report published Oct. 24 in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

Aspergilloma, a fungal infection that mainly infects the lungs, is relatively uncommon, and this particular clump of fungus was extremely large, at nearly 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) wide.

Aspergilloma enters the lungs through the respiratory tract. It creates a cavity inside the lungs, and then a ball of fungus grows inside that space. The fungus typically infects people with suppressed immune systems or lung problems such as tuberculosis. If left untreated, aspergillomas can cause pneumonia and death, Migliore said.

When the 42-year-old farmworker, a chronic smoker, initially came to see doctors, he had lost 77 pounds (35 kilograms) over the previous a year. Despite taking antibiotics for several months, the man's symptoms worsened.

A computed tomography (CT) scan revealed a 2.75-inch by 2.5-inch (7 cm by 6.5 cm) "vegetative" mass in the left upper lobe of his lung. Depending on whether the man was lying down or sitting up, the position of the lesion moved.

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