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Can I Get Mesothelioma at a Young Age?


Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos, which is a deadly carcinogen. When people think about mesothelioma patients, they often think of adults working in construction, mining, or other similar occupations. However, younger individuals can also receive a mesothelioma diagnosis. Since mesothelioma is a rare cancer, few people pay attention to younger victims.

It is important to note that anyone can be exposed to asbestos, even children. Whether it occurs first-hand or second-hand, this early exposure can lead to an early mesothelioma diagnosis. However, since children are rarely diagnosed correctly, many do not find out their true diagnosis until it is too late. For others, they often spend their lifetime treating their mesothelioma to improve their life expectancy and overall quality of life.

How Often Do Younger Individuals Get Diagnosed with Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is rare for adults; therefore, there are few cases of children being diagnosed. In fact, the Mesothelioma Center states that young people make up only 5 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses. The numbers are so low that the National Cancer Institute’s database does not report on child patients. However, its rarity is often a disadvantage for young patients and their families looking for data-driven advice.

With rarity comes a lack of research. There are few studies being done to understand how mesothelioma differs for children. This ultimately leaves families in the dark and doctors guessing on how to best treat a child’s mesothelioma case. While a few studies have been done, there is a long way to go before there is adequate research being done for young patients suffering from this malignant cancer.

How Do Children Get Mesothelioma?

Most individuals are diagnosed with mesothelioma later in their lives. This is because there is often a latency period before the cancer develops; many patients are not diagnosed until decades after their initial exposure. However, some patients may have been exposed at such a young age that their diagnosis comes earlier.

Some younger mesothelioma patients claim that their exposure originated from an old school building that had asbestos, while others experienced second-hand asbestos exposure from a close friend or family member.

A person can experience second-hand asbestos exposure by coming in contact with an individual who had asbestos on his or her clothes. Asbestos is a fiber; therefore, it can easily stick to materials, including clothing. If an individual comes into contact with the toxic material, he or she can be exposed. Anyone working around asbestos can bring it home to a spouse and or child, leading to a child’s positive diagnosis later in life.

Also, women are often exposed to second-hand asbestos exposure. In fact, a study that centered around 90 female mesothelioma patients revealed that 64 percent of the patients studied were vulnerable to non-occupational exposure. The study found that the female patients often faced exposure by laundering clothes carrying asbestos fibers. This eventually led to positive diagnoses. This further proves the danger of second-hand asbestos exposure.

Young people may also face asbestos exposure through products on the market. Unfortunately, not all products are fully regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). One industry that is not fully regulated is the cosmetics industry. There have been instances of children’s makeup containing trace amounts of asbestos. Numerous other products also have been discovered to contain asbestos, including crayons and baby powder.

What Do Studies Suggest About Mesothelioma for Younger Patients?

Studies on child cases have found similarities and differences for kids and adults. For instance, one study suggests that children are more likely to have pleural mesothelioma, like adults. However, there are some notable differences, including gender. While most older mesothelioma patients are male, younger patients tended to be female. The study also found that younger participants had a higher likelihood of having cancer in their family history than older participants, indicating a possible genetic predisposition.

Another study looked at the life expectancy of child mesothelioma patients with pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma. Five years after the initial diagnosis, only two of the children had survived. The five children who passed away did not respond well to chemotherapy and surgery. Only one of the children lived in remission for a few years after chemotherapy treatments.

What Symptoms Do Younger Patients Experience?

Children diagnosed with mesothelioma are known to have similar symptoms to adults. The symptoms a child may suffer from often depends on his or her diagnosis, whether it is pleural, peritoneal, or pericardial mesothelioma. It is important to identify which type of mesothelioma a child has in order to accurately treat it.

A child with pleural mesothelioma often has symptoms of shortness of breath, chest pain, and a buildup of fluid around the lungs. These young patients also tend to suffer from several symptoms, including a loss of appetite, weight loss, extreme fatigue, and a high fever.

On the other hand, children with peritoneal mesothelioma may have fatigue, a high fever, abdominal pain, and significant weight loss.

Due to the rarity of children with mesothelioma, it is very challenging to correctly diagnose a child. Doctors often look to other more common illnesses that their symptoms may associate with upon first glance before giving the correct diagnosis of mesothelioma. Some of these diagnoses may include respiratory illnesses, pneumonia, gallstones, or heart disease.

Patients who are not finding relief with their diagnosis are encouraged to seek a second opinion. Patients should look to mesothelioma specialists if they are experiencing any symptoms of mesothelioma.

Diagnosing mesothelioma is often difficult, so it important to seek medical attention right away if any symptoms are present. An early diagnosis can be crucial in helping prolong a patient’s lifespan and overall quality of life. This is because treatment can begin immediately before the cancer develops.

What Treatment Options Do Younger Patients Have?

Similar treatment options for mesothelioma are available for both children and adults. Treatment options include radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery, or a combination of the three. Doctors that administer a combination of radiation and chemotherapy intend to kill or slow the division of cancer cells. Ultimately, this is to reduce the spread of the cancer and increase the quality of life for the patient.

Although treatment options for children are similar to those for adults, there are some differences. Most of these differences lie in the dosages for treatments. Specifically, a child taking chemotherapy drugs often has a different dosage than an adult. This is due to the difference in body weight. Younger patients who have to undergo surgery also face other complications. Surgeries are often more difficult for younger patients due to the size of their bodies.

How Can a Lawyer Help a Young Patient with Mesothelioma?

A mesothelioma lawyer can help patients and their families. Mesothelioma is physically, emotionally, and financially debilitating. Contacting a lawyer can help a victim’s family collect compensation for medical expenses and other losses related to the mesothelioma diagnosis. A lawyer can help handle all of the legal business related to the diagnosis, allowing a family to spend time together through the recovery period.

Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler Help Young Mesothelioma Patients

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact one of our Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler. We understand that a mesothelioma diagnosis is difficult for an individual. This is why our lawyers work tirelessly to help patients navigate the legal process with both ease and compassion. For more information and a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 215-569-4000. Located in Philadelphia, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County.