When we think of mesothelioma we often think of it as an old man’s disease. Indeed, due to the occupations that caused exposure to asbestos, it tended to affect men and many were not diagnosed with the cancer until they were in the 60s.
However, times have changed and we are seeing more women being diagnosed with the incurable asbestos cancer. Sadly, it is not only adults that are affected by the condition. Although rare, mesothelioma can affect children but their experience of the disease differs from that in adults.
Mesothelioma is rare in children
A recent study has attempted to characterise paediatric mesothelioma. This is a very rare condition and researchers looked at data between 1987 and 2018, finding 33 patients age 21 or under who were diagnosed with mesothelioma.
The ages ranged from 0.2 to 21.1 years, with a median age of 14 years old. Just under half of the patients were male.
Mesothelioma affects the lining of the body’s organs and so can affect any part of the body. Most commonly in adults, the lungs are affected however in this study it was found that 70% had peritoneal mesothelioma (affecting the abdomen) and only 15% had pleural mesothelioma (affecting the lungs), with the rest having other affected areas.
As you may expect with such a rare condition, 30% of patients were initially misdiagnosed.
Only one patient’s exposure to asbestos was documented. Although this is not to be unexpected, as children will not have been out to work with asbestos and their exposure may be environmental.
Unlike mesothelioma in adults, children responded well to surgery and chemotherapy and the 5-year overall survival was 82.3%.
Tragic case – Remembering Aaron
One case we will never forget is that of Aaron. He was just 22 years old when he sadly lost his fight with mesothelioma.
We were able to show that he had been exposed to asbestos from his father’s work clothes when he was working for a construction company.
Sadly, no amount of money could ever replace Aaron, but we were able to give his family a sense of justice for the negligence of the companies that allowed the exposure to occur.
If you require assistance in pursuing an asbestos compensation claim for mesothelioma or other asbestos disease then please contact us today on our freephone number 0800 038 6767. Alternatively, head over to the ‘Contact Us’ page, complete the form and we will be in touch.
Orbach D, André N, Brecht IB, et al. Mesothelioma in children and adolescents: the European Cooperative Study Group for Pediatric Rare Tumors (EXPeRT) contribution. Eur J Cancer. 2020;140:63-70. doi:10.1016/j.ejca.2020.09.011