Mesothelioma and Children
Despite average latency periods of 20 to 50 years, mesothelioma can become apparent with noticeable symptoms in a span of 10 years if the exposure level was high enough. Although it is extremely rare in children, mesothelioma can occur at younger ages, However, the American Cancer Society states that mesothelioma is rare in people under the age of 45, with three out of four people diagnosed being 65 or older.
A study was conducted in the 1980s on 80 cases involving children that were diagnosed with mesothelioma. Only five percent of those cases revealed that the children were exposed to asbestos. Of the 80 children, four of them had been knowingly exposed to asbestos, one had received radiation therapy, and another was exposed to the drug isoniazid during prenatal treatment. Isoniazid is a drug used to treat tuberculosis. It was then later discovered that only 10 of the 80 cases indicated that malignant mesothelioma was the diagnosis; two of those cases survived until they were nineteen years old.
Secondary exposure and genetic predisposition plays a significant role in the childhood development of this disease. Childhood mesothelioma remains the rarest form of mesothelioma cancer. Survival rates are generally low, with most life expectancies one year or less. This is due in large part because the
disease often progresses for some time before detection. However, as new testing techniques become available, it is expected that mesothelioma patients will have more palliative options, with the hope of increasing survival rates. Early detection is key and opens the doors for a more aggressive approach in treating mesothelioma.
- American Cancer Society
- Kauffman, Shirley L., and Stout, Arthur P. “Mesothelioma in Children.” Cancer 17.4 (1964): 539-544. Web. 16 May 2011. <http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/1097-0142%28196404%2917:4%3C539::AID-CNCR2820170416%3E3.0.CO;2-A/pdf>.