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The pungent meal is quick, cheap and tasty, but the fish is also a favorite feast for parasites that can cause a lethal liver cancer killing up to 20,000 Thais annually.After seeing hundreds of hopeless late-stage cases on the operating table, Narong is now marshaling scientists, doctors and anthropologists to attack the "silent killer" at source.They are fanning out across Isaan provinces to screen villagers for the liver fluke and warn them of the perils of koi pla and other risky fermented fish dishes.Many villagers are shocked to hear that a beloved dish passed down for generations is a danger rather than a comfort.Narong and his team have developed urine tests to detect the presence of the parasite, which has infected 80 percent of some Isaan communities.They have also spent the past four years trucking ultrasound machines around the region to examine the livers of villagers who live far from public hospitals.A third of them showed abnormal liver symptoms and four were suspected to have cancer.
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