By MICHAEL KURZMANThe Associated PressScience and medicine reporterAugust 27, 201811:37A British surgeon has confirmed he has become the first person to catch the rare virus that causes cervical cancer.
The 33-year-old, who has been working at a UK clinic for two years, said he had developed the disease after taking part in the World Health Organization’s coronavirus vaccination program.
Dr Michael Murphy said he was in the intensive care unit at the Royal London Hospital on Friday after receiving a CT scan that confirmed he had a malignant tumour in his neck.
The disease has not yet spread to other parts of his body, but Dr Murphy said it was possible he could be the first to catch it, which was estimated to be around 200,000 cases a year in the UK.
“I’m just extremely lucky, it’s a life-changing thing,” he said.
Dr Murphy said there was no evidence the virus had caused cancer in any other person before he became infected.
The specialist in cervical cancer at the clinic in Bedfordshire, where he is chief surgeon, said the diagnosis was a shock to his colleagues.
“It was a total shock for me,” he told The Associated Press.
“When you have to put a knife to someone else’s head and say you’ve got to do something about this disease, you feel it.”
This is something that’s absolutely terrifying.
“People are dying from this.”
Dr Murphy has not been diagnosed with any other cancer, but said he felt the need to act.
“The risk of cervical cancer is much higher than you might think.
It’s the second-highest killer after breast cancer,” he added.”
There are a lot of very young people that are in my practice, and some of the patients who have had their first child are still going through the process.”
The virus is transmitted by saliva from a person who has a fever, cough or sore throat.
It is most often spread by coughing or sneezing, and is usually passed on through contact with bodily fluids such as blood or breast milk.
It is not spread through direct contact and it cannot be transmitted through a blood transfusion.
Dr Paul Williams, head of the UK’s National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, said there were around 1.4 million cases of cervical-cancer cases in the country each year.
“We are working very hard to keep this virus under control and it’s been an incredibly challenging situation,” he commented.
“With the new vaccine we’re trying to prevent these people getting this disease.”