A British man has gotten the best, weirdest news a cancer patient has ever received. It turns out the 47-year-old man does not have lung cancer after all. Because the “tumor” turned out to be a small Playmobil toy he inhaled back in 1977.

According to the British Medical Journal, the 47-year-old man had been suffering from a persistent cough and heavy yellow mucus for over a year when he went to a respiratory clinic for medical attention. Doctors there were concerned it could be lung cancer. The patient had been a long-term smoker, and he’d recently had pneumonia. A chest X-ray revealed a dark mass in his lung. All logic indicated the mass must be a tumor.

During a bronchoscopy to confirm the suspected diagnosis, however, doctors were flabbergasted to discover it was not a tumor at all. It was a tiny plastic traffic cone.

Doctors removed the toy, and the patient realized it was a toy traffic cone that came with a Playmobil set he received for his seventh birthday in 1977. He’s pretty sure he inhaled it shortly after.

“Following the procedure, the patient reported that he regularly played with and even swallowed pieces of Playmobil during his childhood,” the doctors said.

The traffic cone was removed four months ago, and the patient is reportedly feeling much better.

If you ever needed a spooky case study for why your kids shouldn’t put toys in their mouths, this is it.

The Playmobil traffic cone was only about a centimeter tall, but doctors couldn’t believe it managed to stay in this guy’s lung for 40 years. They suggest that maybe because the patient was only seven when he inhaled the toy, his lungs were able to develop around it over time. It’s lucky the guy wasn’t hurt when he inhaled the traffic cone, and it’s very fortunate that he didn’t wind up having cancer after all. But still, kids, don’t stick toys in your mouth. You might inhale them, and then it’ll get stuck in the lining of your lungs for 40 years and eventually case a nasty cancer scare.

OK, this is actually extremely unlikely. Doctors say they don’t think this has ever happened before. Still, it’s a great spooky story.

And if you also need a cautionary tale to keep kids from smoking, just show them a picture of that Playmobil traffic cone after doctors pulled it from the lung of a long-term smoker. That traffic cone used to be bright orange. Now it’s the color of cigarette tar.

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(Image:  Playmobil)