Teratoma


My aunt’s sister-in-law, Agnes, had a tumor removed last week; my aunt called to tell me the news.  Agnes was an RN and for several years, worked in the operating room beside several cancer surgeons.  She’d help them shovel out lung cancers, prostate cancers, thyroid tumors . . .  you name it.  Always in the pink of health, Agnes was upset to detect a growth in her lower back.  Perhaps it had been there for a long time (she couldn’t say) but some months ago, Agnes started feeling a lump.  Agnes is a stout woman so she thought the smallish lump could have been what her mother called a “fat cyst”.  Agnes’ mother had one for years.  This cyst presented as a large soft lump with a duct to the skin’s surface.  When Agnes’ father squeezed his wife’s cyst, a copious stream of fat and sebum shot out, spraying a considerable distance.  Having the cyst “milked” like this every few months relieved all problems and the cyst remained in place for the woman’s life.

Agnes felt that, thanks to her mother’s experience, a fat cyst could be successfully managed by its owner.  Unhappily, Agnes’ cyst was around back and, thanks to her ample frame, it was unreachable.  Also, being a spinster, Agnes had no one at home who could squeeze it for her so the cyst was left to its own devices.

And so it grew.

Finally, after becoming quite uncomfortable whenever she reclined in her Lazy-Boy, Agnes decided to visit one of her colleagues.  “Could you cut it out?  Or at least drain it?” she asked.  “We’ll see,” said the doctor in a doctor’s non-committal way as he poked and prodded.  The healer’s sensitive fingers perceived some irregularities and  thickenings within the lump.  Turning to face Agnes, the doctor said he needed to perform an MRI or CT scan “to get a better look,” as he put it.  When the doctor saw the images, he swallowed hard.  Three days later, the doctor admitted Agnes to the hospital and preped her for surgery.  Agnes had what’s known as a teratoma.  According to the diagnostic images it was a tumor, large and full of teeth, hair, skin, neural tissue and what looked like an eyeball (see image below).

Teratoma

But why all these body parts?  Well, you see a teretoma is a tumor that develops from a germ cell as does a fetus.  Well now, this raises the question, can it not be considered a parthenogenetic organism, i.e. a baby with no father?  But a baby nevertheless?  Indeed it can.  Not a particularly pleasant form of of human fetus, but a human fetus nonetheless.  So can Agnes have it cut out?  Or would that be construed as an abortion?

Yes, and why should it not!  Many right-to-lifers demand anencephalitic infants (see image below) be carried to term, then be kept alive with all possible means.  They maintain an anencephalitic, even though it will be born with no brain, can’t be aborted for that would be taking the life of a “pre-born”

Bad baby

Almost all anencephalitic infants are either born dead or die within minutes of birth.  However, in one celebrated case, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_K) some judges came down on the side of right-to-lifers and ordered the “baby” be kept alive by all heroic methods.  And live it did, for a little over two years before succumbing to the inevitable.  (Of course the good jurists couldn’t use brain death as a criterion in making their decision as the issue was moot; little Baby K had no brain to begin with.)

So could Agnes’ teratoma, having no more brain than Baby K, but having neural tissue, skin, some bone, be considered a “re-born”?  To some, no doubt.  Naturally Agnes’ doctors did not agree.  They considered Anges’ teratoma to be a tumor and most definitely not a baby so they cut it out, dropped in the specimen tray and whisked it of to Pathology.  But by the lights of those prancing about in front of Planned Parenthood clinics, Agnes just had an abortion on par with removing an anencephalitic before it is born.

I wonder, though, if a teratoma can be fed and irrigated outside the “mother”‘s body in the way of Baby K?  If it can, boy can you imagine the rukus?

In any case, what do you think?

-Merlin-

 

 

Indeed so.  A teratoma

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