Weird Medicine

Man Grows ‘Dragon Horn’ In Bizarre Medical Story

Doctors were left surprised by a man in the United Kingdom after he grew a 5-inch “dragon horn.” But it is not something magical since the patient actually had a skin cancer that caused the rare type of growth. 

The case, published in the British Medical Journal, shows that the unnamed 50-year-old manual laborer developed a condition called cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC). This disease is considered the second most common non-melanoma skin cancer, IFL Science reported Thursday.

The dragon horn formed on the man’s lower back, which measured 14 centimeters long and nearly 6 centimeters thick. Cutaneous horns commonly occur because of benign, premalignant or malignant tumors.

Doctors said the man’s skin cancer remained untreated for more than three years, which allowed the tumor to grow into a horn. The patient did not have many risk factors that could cause skin cancer, such as long-term sun exposure, family history of the disease and problems with his immune system.

However, he admitted to being a smoker. Doctors surgically removed the growth, which involved removing 8 millimeters of healthy skin around the horn and 7 millimeters deep into the skin.

Another skin was taken from the patient’s thigh and transferred to his back to reconstruct the area affected by cancer. The entire procedure was successful.

Authors of the case study said the patient’s case was preventable. However, the growth was “neglected by a patient living in a developed country with access to free health care.”

“This highlights that despite current public skin cancer awareness and rigorous health care measures, cases like this can still arise and slip through the net,” the authors wrote. 

To date, most cases of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma can be diagnosed and treated early. There are treatments available that have been proven effective to prevent the skin cancer from forming into horns or other external growth. 

In the U.S., estimates show that squamous cell carcinoma covers 20 percent of all skin cancer cases. One in eight men develop the disease in the country. 

People become ati risk of the disease because of light skin, high ultraviolet radiation exposure, chronic wounds, arsenic exposure, HPV infections and poor immune system function.

Dragon Horn Gigantic keratotic horn over back. A 50-year-old man in the United Kingdom developed a 5-inch “dragon horn” after ignoring his skin cancer for more than three years. Plonczak et al./BMJ Case Reports 2019