Like something from a horror movie, an evil twin growing inconspicuously inside a human host, they’re called teratoma tumors and thankfully, they are extremely rare. Cases have been reported of teratoma tumors growing organs, hair, teeth, bone, hands, feet, torsos, and sometimes even eyes. If visions of an evil twin come to mind, hold on tight. These things are nature’s most horrendous twist.
What is a teratoma tumor?
The word Teratoma comes from the Greek words “teras” and “onkoma” which appropriately translate to “monster” and “swelling”. It is believed the bizarre tumors come from germ cells, which form human eggs, and is caused by wayward sperm or eggs that erroneously activated. The result is an encapsulated tumor, with tissue or organ components resembling a fetus – that attempts to become as human as it can.
Often times they are present at birth but not discovered until much later in life (after they have grown large enough to cause discomfort). The tumors are typically benign and cause no long term damage (other than psychological trauma for the patient, doctors, and readers of this article).
Real-life cases of teratoma tumors in people
Below are a collection of real-life, documented medical cases of teratoma tumors in human hosts.
Colorado Springs, Colorado teratoma case (2008)
A baby in Colorado Springs, Colorado was born in 2008 with a small tumor in his brain. Doctors decided to operate even though the child was only three days old. After the tumor was removed, doctors were shocked to find that it contained one fully-formed foot, another partial foot, and the beginnings of a hand and thigh. The doctor reported:
“I’ve never seen anything like it before. It looked like the breach delivery of a baby coming out of the brain.”
Korea teratoma case
Another infant born in Korea had two teratoma tumors. One contained an eye, a trachea, various organs – and a brain! The other tumor contained bones, vertebrae, and intestines. Both tumors were covered in a thin, transparent membrane.
India, 23-year-old woman, teratoma case
A 23-year-old Indian woman was born with what doctors thought was an abnormal left eye. Over the course of years, her eye continued to swell until the woman’s vision became blurred. It was found that a teratoma tumor had pushed the woman’s eye inside its socket, blocking her vision. When the tumor was removed from her eye, it was found to contain two perfectly-formed human teeth.
18-year-old Hispanic boy, teratoma case
A 18-year-old Hispanic boy complained about breathing difficulties. He was overweight so doctors thought nothing about it. Years later, the condition became worse and he was rushed to the hospital.
“I started coughing a lot, but I said that it was all the dust at the construction site. My dad told me to go to the hospital to check it out, but I just dismissed it. Then I started coughing up blood and my dad insisted that I go and see the doctor.”
During the emergency surgery, doctors found a cyst, the size of a basketball, crushing his lungs. The doctors performing the surgery were expecting a normal cyst, but it was unlike any they had seen before. The sheer size of it was shocking, but what was found within was even more so. Inside the tumor was hair, teeth and what looked like eyes of an underdeveloped fetus.
25-year-old Japanese woman, teratoma case
In 2007, a 25-year-old Japanese woman reported experiencing discomfort in her stomach. Doctors found and removed a teratoma tumor from her ovary. Inside the doll-like lump was found a head with fine, downy hair, and in the center of its forehead, one fully formed eye cloaked by thick, long eyelashes. Further inspection of the tumor revealed an ear, all four human limbs, a brain, spinal nerve, intestines, bones, and blood vessels – even a jaw containing several pefectly-formed teeth.
Los Angeles teratoma case
A Los Angeles woman experienced headaches and confusion that worsened over time. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor but due to her inability to afford surgery, the tumor remained and grew over time. When the lump was finally removed, it was found to be growing bone, hair, and teeth. The patient later joked that the tumor was her “evil twin sister” who’d been tormenting her inside her head.
Japan teratoma case (2017)
A tumor containing a miniature brain was found growing on the ovary of a 16-year-old girl in Japan during a routine surgery to remove her appendix. Inside the tumor was greasy, matted hair and a brain-like structure covered with a thin plate of skull bone. Closer analysis revealed the structure was a smaller version of a cerebellum – which usually sits underneath the brain’s two hemispheres. A mass on one side of the structure resembled a brain stem.
Ancient teratoma case
Teratoma tumors are nothing new. In Spain, archaeologists found the remains of a Roman woman who died in her 30’s. Archeologists found a calcified tumor in her pelvis which had bone and four deformed teeth embedded within it.
If you can stomach it, check out the pictorial gallery below featuring a bevy of real-life teratoma tumor cases.