US cancer patient develops ‘uncontrollable’ Irish accent

He came down with a bad case of blarney.

An American cancer patient developed an “uncontrollable” Irish accent in a possible neurological disorder triggered by his immune system,  according to researchers who studied the medical oddity.

The unnamed man in his 50s was being treated for prostate cancer by doctors from Duke University in Durham, N.C., when he began speaking in an “Irish brogue’ accent” for the first time in his life, according to a report published in the January issue of BMJ Case Reports.

“His accent was uncontrollable, present in all settings and gradually became persistent,” according to the report, which was co-authored by researchers from Carolina Urologic Research Center in South Carolina.

Despite never having lived in Ireland or traveled to the country, the man developed the speech pattern roughly two years after he was diagnosed with a metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer, according to the report, which notes he developed a case of foreign accent syndrome (FAS).

Researchers noted that the patient had no history of psychiatric disease before  picking up an accent fit for a scene in “The Banshees of Inisherin.”

They also noted he had lived briefly in England and had Irish friends and family members.

Doctors linked the patient’s foreign accent syndrome to an immune system response.
San Francisco Chronicle via Gett

The most likely cause of the speech shift is a so-called paraneoplastic neurological disorder, which was set off as the patient’s immune system fought the cancer, the doctors said.

The man’s cancer-fighting agents likely attacked parts of his brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves or muscle, causing the foreign accent syndrome, according to the report.

Over time, the patient developed paralysis in his legs and arms, which the researchers said is a sign of paraneoplastic syndrome,  before eventually dying.

“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 report states.

Foreign accent syndrome is also known as  dysprosody and is defined by a consistent change in speech that presents as a foreign accent.

The syndrome is also linked to stroke,  head trauma and history of psychiatric disease, according to past research.