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

Doctors suspected lung cancer. But it was actually a toy he'd swallowed 40 years ago

Once the traffic cone was removed, the patient later admitted to being an inveterate Playmobil-chewer as a child.

But when doctors at Royal Preston Hospital in England completed more tests, they were surprised to find that the mystery mass was something far more benign: a long-lost miniature traffic cone from a Playmobil set, which the man said he must have swallowed 40 years prior.

The man got the scans after a constant cough saw him referred to a specialist respiratory clinic. He was suspected to be suffering from lung cancer, primarily due to his history as a long-term smoker.

But when doctors went in to remove the mass, instead of a tumour they pulled out a small plastic traffic cone that the man had received as part of a birthday gift when he was seven.

Paul, who lives in the village of Croston, Lancs., with his wife Helen, 46, said: "Doctors said they could see something orange down my throat but didn't know what it was".

The male patient, now 50 years old, reported that throughout his childhood, he regularly played with, and swallowed, Playmobil toy pieces. Baxter remembered the toy cone from a model railway set he had back when he was 7 years old. They estimate the patient's aviation route some way or another adjusted to the nearness of the plastic toy or was assimilated into the covering of the lung.

Doctors detail the unique case in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

He had swallowed the miniature object - wait for it - 40 years ago.

Chest X-rays two weeks before and then four months after the toy was removed.

"However, a case in which the onset of symptoms occurs so long after initial aspiration is unheard of in the literature", they write.

"His symptoms improved markedly", the authors said, "and he finally found his long lost Playmobil traffic cone in the very last place he would look".

Doctors believe that because the patient was so young, his lung may have been able to remold itself and adapt to the presence of the foreign body, according to the BBC.

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