My tumour was missed for so long it grew hair and had teeth

Mia Robins
-Credit: (Image: Kennedy News and Media)

A student has recounted the harrowing experience of her 'melon-sized' cancerous tumour, which was initially misdiagnosed as a UTI by doctors, and shockingly, it grew hair and teeth. Mia Robins, who was in her first year at university, felt a painful pressure in her abdomen that was accompanied by fatigue, weight loss, and hair loss.

Despite these alarming symptoms, the 21 year old from Liverpool said her concerns were brushed aside with various incorrect diagnoses such as alopecia, anaemia, and a urinary infection. It wasn't until an ultrasound in June 2022 that the true extent of Mia's condition revealed she had ovarian cancer.

At the age of 19, Mia underwent urgent surgery to remove the massive tumour, which resembled the size of a honeydew melon and bizarrely contained hair and teeth. Although her cancer returned after six months, Mia successfully battled through chemotherapy and was declared cancer-free in August 2023.

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Mia is now advocating for people to persistently question medical advice if they believe their health issues are not being adequately addressed. She shared: "I had my appendix removed in December 2021 and began experiencing pain the next month. I would wake up in pain like I needed the toilet straight away. I felt a lot of pressure and was dying to go to the bathroom but it would go away as soon as I went to the toilet.

Mia had a bulging stomach before she was diagnosed (Kennedy News and Media)
She suffered a swollen abdomen -Credit:Kennedy News and Media

"I was also sleeping for like 12 or 13 hours a day and kept sleeping in for work. I wasn't really eating either. I lost about half a stone and dropped a dress size. Then my hair started falling out. I noticed there was a bald spot at the back of my head the size of my palm.", reports the Liverpool Echo.

"I had a massive bulge in my stomach - I looked about four or five months pregnant. I went to A&E twice in three weeks and had about five GP appointments across six months about my symptoms. I was told lots of things like I might have celiac, anaemia, alopecia and a UTI. I told them in A&E that I was crawling to the bathroom in pain and they gave me antibiotics for a UTI but I knew it wasn't that.

"I took the antibiotics and it didn't help at all. I remember thinking I might have cancer and my friend said 'don't be silly'."

Mia ringing the bell after her cancer treatment was complete (Kennedy News and Media)
Mia ringing the bell after her cancer treatment was complete -Credit:(Kennedy News and Media)

Mia recounted her ordeal, saying she returned to A&E in June 2022 where subsequent tests finally uncovered that she had stage one ovarian cancer. The medical team informed her that the tumour was as large as a melon and that she required immediate emergency surgery.

Mia reflected on the gravity of her situation: "They'd caught it early but it was absolutely massive. I had to have emergency surgery because it was the size of a honeydew melon - it was massive and growing. I was in such pain because it was directly above my bladder causing me pain.

The huge tumour
The huge tumour -Credit:Kennedy News and Media

"The fact they told me it was the earliest stage and hadn't affected any other organ was a relief but of course I was upset. It all felt very overwhelming. I was a bit angry my symptoms had been dismissed. I feel like if there'd be an ultrasound earlier, it would've been caught. It took six months to get diagnosed. I was reassured that I would be fine and persistent in going back to my normal routine."

"The surgery was successful but they had to remove my right ovary, my fallopian tube and part of my abdomen and some lymphnodes. They told me the tumour itself had teeth and hair in it which is apparently normal with quite a big tumour. It had such a good blood supply, it was able to grow teeth and hair."

Mia in hospital as she underwent surgery and treatment for cancer (Kennedy News and Media)
Her cancer returned months later -Credit:Kennedy News and Media

Despite the removal of the tumour, Mia faced a recurrence of her cancer in February 2023, leading to a three-month chemotherapy regimen. By August, she received the all-clear and now undergoes regular scans to monitor for any signs of the cancer's return.

Mia expressed: "It was nice to know I was done with it now and could get back to my normal life. This is the first summer that I haven't had to be in hospital for two years. I know I'll be on edge with it for the rest of my life. I felt a bit ignored that my symptoms were dismissed. I was experiencing a lot of pain and knew it wasn't a UTI. I didn't feel believed. I felt ignored for six months."

"I say to other people, always challenge medical staff if you feel something is wrong. I could've died if I hadn't kept going to AandE. My tumour would've kept growing and I could've died."