Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cancer drug wipes out man's fingerprints

Rather bizarre story from
Cancer Drug Erases Man's Fingerprints

Traveler Was Stopped at Border Because of a Side Effect of Xeloda
By Bill Hendrick
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

May 27, 2009 -- A 62-year-old Singapore man was temporarily denied entry into the U.S. because a cancer drug he was taking had made his fingerprints disappear, according to a letter published in the Annals of Oncology.

Eng-Huat Tan, MD, a senior consultant in the medical oncology department at Singapore's National Cancer Center, says his patient, identified as "Mr. S," had been taking the drug Xeloda since July 2005 to prevent recurrence of advanced cancer that had responded well to chemotherapy.

The cancer patient was detained by U.S. Customs officials for four hours in December 2008 because they could not detect fingerprints. The Customs officials later determined that the man was not a security threat.

Tan says people being treated with Xeloda, described as an oral chemotherapy drug, should carry a letter from their doctor that they are taking the medication if they want to travel to countries that require fingerprints for identification.

According to the letter in Annals of Oncology, other cancer patients taking the drug have reported similar side effects.

Foreign visitors have been asked to provide fingerprints at U.S. entry points for a number of years. The images are matched with millions of visa holders to detect whether the visitor has a visa under a different name; visitors' fingerprints are also compared to fingerprints of criminals, Tan says in the letter.

"Mr. S" did not know his fingerprints had disappeared, according to Tan.

Anyone else think that this drug will soon be in high demand among bank robbers and safe crackers? :-P