Mesothelioma, if malignant, is an aggressive form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. The asbestos that enters the body lodges itself within the lining the lungs, abdomen, heart, as well as other organs and eventually the problem takes an adverse shape and tumors form.
The latency period of mesothelioma can be many years, so often diagnosing children with mesothelioma can be difficult because they have not lived that long. However there have been rare cases and studies that detected mesothelioma in children. Because the prognosis is poor, doctors need to carefully diagnose mesothelioma in their youngest patients.
My Parent/Loved One Has It-Can I Be Affected
It is important to understand that mesothelioma is not inherited through genes, therefore just because your Mother or Father has it, does not mean it automatically is passed on. Mesothelioma is also not contagious. There have been cases where children have been diagnosed with mesothelioma but it is through contact with an asbestos exposure. Asbestos exposure can happen many different ways.
In some cases parents who worked in manufacturing or construction companies have exposed children to asbestos through clothing. When at work the asbestos would get trapped in either the clothing or other accessories and when brought home the transmission occurred through the air. That asbestos contaminated air could then be breathed in by a child. Asbestos makes its way into tiny airways of the lungs and then cannot be breathed or coughed out.
In other cases homes built between the 1920s and 1980s may have attics that contain asbestos insulation known as vermiculite. Older roofs may contain asbestos that would then be breathed in. If there is ever a question whether or not your house contains asbestos it is always best to hire a licensed professional asbestos inspector.
There are ongoing studies and most doctors agree that more research must be done before a conclusion is met. Dr. Moran and some of his colleagues recently published a study in the journal, Histopathology, which they analyzed eight cases of children suffering from mesothelioma. All of the children had peritoneal mesothelioma cancer, which is cancer of the abdominal cavity lining. Adults, however, usually suffer from pleural mesothelioma cancer, which is in the lining of the lungs. The children diagnosed with mesothelioma often complained of pain from bloating, due to fluid build-up of their abdomen. This shows that it is possible for children to be diagnosed with mesothelioma, although most victims are adults due to the longevity it usually takes for the disease to manifest.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma symptoms are generally non specific and resemble common sicknesses such as viral pneumonia, heart disease, flu, and bronchitis. These symptoms include: shortness of breath (dyspnea) or difficulty breathing, coughing and/or coughing up of blood, chest or abdomen pain caused by excessive fluid, weight loss, husky voice, difficulty swallowing, fever, anemia, bowel obstruction, inability to sleep, and loss of appetite. Since these are general symptoms of common viral diseases, it is important to report any asbestos history you have to a doctor so the correct diagnosis can be made, especially in children as they may be harder to diagnosis.
Reference: The Asbestos Cancer and Mesothelioma Support Center at Asbestos.Net