A man in the US got prostate cancer. It made him start speaking with an Irish accent.

A man in the US got prostate cancer. It made him start speaking with an Irish accent.
The man sought help after his accent changed.Getty Images
  • A man who had prostate cancer developed an "uncontrollable" Irish accent.
  • His was the first known case of prostate cancer causing someone's accent to change.

A man in the US developed an uncontrollable Irish accent in the first known case of prostate cancer causing what is known as foreign accent syndrome, according to a report.

The unnamed man in his fifties went to the doctor after he noticed the tone and pattern of his speech change, 20 months after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, doctors said in a case report published in BMJ Case Reports on Monday.

The man spoke consistently with an "Irish brogue" accent, but never had an Irish accent before nor visited the country, though he had Irish relatives and friends, the doctors, who work in North Carolina and South Carolina, said.

The man had also lost weight, but didn't initially have symptoms from the cancer. He was diagnosed with the most common type of prostate cancer, adenocarcinoma, following screening, and had been treated with two types of hormone therapy and radiotherapy to his prostate and pelvis.

The man had foreign accent syndrome

The authors said that the man had foreign accent syndrome, a rare phenomenon where a person's speech and articulation consistently changes so they sound like they have a foreign accent. It can occur after a stroke, but in this case it was caused by paraneoplastic syndrome from the prostate cancer, they said. Paraneoplastic syndrome refers to a group of symptoms caused by cancer cells that release hormones and other substances.


According to the report, no-one with prostate cancer has had FAS before, but there are case reports of one person with breast cancer and another with brain cancer.

The cancer developed into a more aggressive type

Three months after the man noticed the accent, he experienced discomfort in his lower abdomen, pain when he peed, and leg pain that came and went.

Scans found that the prostate cancer had spread to his liver and bones, and he had a new mass in his pelvis. Biopsies revealed that the cancer had developed into a rarer, more agressive subtype of prostate cancer following his hormone treatment.

The doctors said it's important to recognize FAS and underlying paraneoplastic syndromes because they can be a sign that a cancer has developed into a more agressive type.

The man died after the cancer spread to his brain

Doctors treated the man with two chemotherapy drugs and radiotherapy to his right leg to help manage the pain. But after two cycles he went to hospital because he couldn't move his feet, and then his arms: The cancer had spread to his brain.


Despite having chemotherapy, his condition rapidly deteriorated and he went into a hospice where he died, the doctors said.

Case reports tend to shed light on unexpected symptoms, rare side effects, or innovative approaches to treatment, but usually more research is needed to support the findings.

More research to understand the possible links between these rare syndromes and how they progress is needed, the authors said.