Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that typically affects adults. However, it is also diagnosed in a small number of children in Illinois and across the United States each year. Here are some of the characteristics of pediatric mesothelioma.
In adults, mesothelioma is most often found in adults over the age of 65. The disease is linked to asbestos exposure, and it can take decades to develop. In children, mesothelioma is rarely directly linked to asbestos exposure, and it develops early in life. The disease has been identified in only a few hundred children worldwide.
Pediatric mesothelioma is poorly understood, but researchers are trying to establish a set of characteristics for the disease. A 2015 study published in Oncotarget reviewed the cases of 12,345 mesothelioma patients and found that just 2% were younger than 40 years old at the time of diagnosis. Meanwhile, a 2020 study published in the European Journal of Cancer analyzed the cases of 33 mesothelioma patients diagnosed before the age of 21 and found that young people tend to have a different primary tumor location than adults. It also found that children had a much better prognosis than adults following treatment with an 82.3% survival rate after five years. The primary treatment for pediatric mesothelioma is pemetrexed-based chemotherapy with cytoreductive surgery.
Experts believe that pediatric mesothelioma may be caused by radiation exposure, in utero exposure to the antibiotic isoniazid, genetics or exposure to asbestos products. Common symptoms of the disease include:
- Enlarged abdomen
- Abdominal pain
- General malaise
- Shortness of breath
Parents of young mesothelioma patients might benefit from speaking to an attorney familiar with mesothelioma and asbestos cases. Legal counsel may review the details of the case and determine if legal action is recommended.