US man developed ‘uncontrollable’ Irish accent after cancer diagnosis - despite having never visited Ireland
A US man, who never visited Ireland, had developed an “uncontrollable Irish accent” after his prostate cancer diagnosis.
A man from the US developed an “uncontrollable Irish accent” after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, although he had never visited Ireland. The BBC reported the North Carolina man, who was in his 50s, was afflicted with foreign accent syndrome (FAS).
The research, which was conducted by British Medical Journal, found FAS - deemed to be a rare speech disorder - gave the man, who had no immediate family from Ireland, a “brogue” that remained until his death.
The case was jointly studied and reported by Duke University in North Carolina and the Carolina Urologic Research Center in South Carolina. Several similar cases have been recorded globally in recent years.
The report said: “To our knowledge, this is the first case of FAS described in a patient with prostate cancer and the third described in a patient with malignancy.” The patient’s identifying characteristics, including his name and nationality, were not included in the report.
However, the report says he lived in England in his 20s and had friends and distant family from Ireland, but he had never previously spoken with a foreign accent. The report said: “His accent was uncontrollable, present in all settings and gradually became persistent.”
The researchers in the report said the symptom began to appear 20 months into his treatment. Even as his condition worsened, the accent remained until his death months later. He also had no neurological examination abnormalities, psychiatric history or MRI of the brain abnormalities at symptom onset.
The report added: “Despite chemotherapy his neuroendocrine prostate cancer progressed resulting in multifocal brain metastases and a likely paraneoplastic ascending paralysis leading to his death.”
The researchers suspect the voice change was caused by a condition called paraneoplastic neurological disorder (PND), which happens when cancer patients’ immune systems attack parts of their brain, as well as muscles, nerves and spinal cord.
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