The medical community knows that mesothelioma in adults is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos. What is less well known is the cause of the disease in children. Is this rare form of childhood cancer also due to exposure to these dangerous fibers? If so, where is the exposure occurring? Although there are many unanswered questions about this branch of medicine, researchers do have a few clues.
Part of the challenge of studying this disease is that so few cases have been identified. Childhood incidences are so rare that they are not even reported as a separate category by the National Cancer Institute.
What is known is that the childhood form of the disease occurs in the same varieties as the adult form. The most common variety is the pleural form. This involves the lining of the lungs and leads to shortness of breath, chest pains, and a buildup of fluid around the lungs. Young people can also develop the peritoneal form, which involves the lining of the abdominal cavity, and the pericardial form, which causes an inflammation of the membranous sac around the heart.
It was thought in the past that this childhood cancer must be due to secondhand exposure. That is, the parents of the young patients had carried the dangerous fibers home on their clothing from a job site. However, this theory does not explain why the young people developed the disease so quickly when it may take adults decades to show symptoms.
Recent research has found two possible explanations for this discrepancy: other causes of the disease and previously unsuspected sources of the fibers. It has been found that some patients may develop the disease due to radiation treatments or prenatal exposure to the drug Isoniazid. Some young people also seem to be genetically predisposed to contracting the disease.
The most troubling finding of recent research is that products sold as toys for the younger age groups may contain hidden asbestos. An investigation by the Environmental Working Group’s Action Fund looked at 23 brands of crayons and 21 play detective kits that included fingerprint powder. They discovered that four of the crayon brands and two of the fingerprint kits contained the dangerous fibers.
While crayons, fingerprint powder, or any other children’s playthings have not been directly linked to childhood disease, it would be wise for parents to exercise caution to protect the safety of their family. Mesothelioma is often misdiagnosed in young patients and is not caught until the disease has progressed. The prognosis is very poor, treatment is difficult, and most patients do not survive.
It is clear that asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma in children, What is less clear is how they are being exposed to the fibers. Researchers continue to explore this question in the effort to identify sources of contamination and better ensure the safety of youngsters around the world.
For more information on the dangers of asbestos and advice for keeping your children safe, please visit mesothelioma.net, the world’s most comprehensive information resource for mesothelioma information. For more information about the author, please visit https://mesothelioma.net/tech-school-students/.
About the Authors
Mesothelioma.net is the best web resource for finding information on mesothelioma cancer, a rare cancer most commonly developing in the lining of the lungs, and causes by asbestos. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for mesothelioma. While it's treatable, it's more commonly detected in later stages; leading to a poor prognosis. For more information about Mesothelioma, please visit their website at mesothelioma.net. To find out more about the dangers of asbestos and occupational hazards, feel free to visit https://mesothelioma.