The Curious Case of the Vanishing Tumor

July 11, 2018  Source: LiveScience 168

A woman from California was diagnosed with a meningioma (brain tumor) in her ninth month of pregnancy. Her doctors suggested that she delay treatment until her child was born. She was facing symptoms such as severe headaches on the left side of her forehead, nausea, vomiting and occasional blurry vision.

Exactly three months after giving birth, she visited the hospital for a brain scan. At that time, her doctors found a medical miracle. The tumor had almost disappeared completely. Her doctors named it the Houdini tumor after the famous magician Harry Houdini. She never experienced any symptom except headaches from then onwards. This case report was published in the journal World Neurosurgery.

Dr. Vikram Chakravarthy, the lead author and a neurosurgery resident at the Cleveland Clinic, treated the woman while at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine, California. He suspects that the pregnancy-related hormones played a major role in tumor growth during the pregnancy which disappeared instantly after childbirth, but the mechanism is still unclear.

Dr. Vikram Chakravarthy said, “It's unclear when the woman's tumor first appeared, but in some cases, meningiomas may be stimulated by the release of hormones during pregnancy; When the tumor was initially discovered in the woman's final month of pregnancy, it was about the size of a grape; Three months after she gave birth, it had shrunk to about the size of a sunflower seed.”

Since the tumor shrunk on its own, she no longer required surgery. But doctors are still monitoring her case by repeating brain scans periodically to ensure that the tumor continues to shrink.

By Ddu
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