American man developed ‘uncontrollable’ Irish accent during cancer treatment

Doctors in America have been left baffled after a cancer patient developed an “uncontrollable” Irish accent – despite never visiting the country.

The 50-year-old man from North Carolina was diagnosed with prostate cancer when he appeared to develop foreign accent syndrome (FAS), according to the British Medical Journal.

The rare syndrome is seen in patients who have suffered strokes or head injuries but this is the first time it’s been seen in a prostate cancer patient, according to research by Duke University in North Carolina and the Carolina Urologic Research Center in South Carolina.

During their joint study, researchers could only find two cases similar to the “brogue” accent that remained in the unnamed patient until his death, The Mirror reports.

The report, which was published in the British Medical Journal, states: “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 man had never visited Ireland before nor did he have any close relatives from this country.

However, he maintained the Irish accent throughout the 20 months of treatment until his death.

The report said: “He had no neurological examination abnormalities, psychiatric history or MRI of the brain abnormalities at symptom onset.

“Despite chemotherapy, his neuroendocrine prostate cancer progressed resulting in multifocal brain metastases and a likely paraneoplastic ascending paralysis leading to his death.

“His accent was uncontrollable, present in all settings and gradually became persistent.”

The researchers believe the voice change was caused by a condition called paraneoplastic neurological disorder (PND).

It happens when cancer patients’ immune systems attack parts of their brain; as well as muscles, nerves and the spinal cord.

Although the condition is rare, patients have reported suffering from PND including Linda Walker, from the UK, in 2006.

She discovered that her Geordie accent had been replaced by a Jamaican-sounding voice after having a stroke.

Linda said at the time: “Not only did I have a stroke, but I got lumbered with this foreign accent syndrome as well.

“I didn’t realise what I sounded like, but then my speech therapist played a tape of me talking. I was just devastated.”

The report said there needs to be additional research to find out more about the disorder.

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