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Challenges and Hope: Mesothelioma in Children

Challenges and Hope: Mesothelioma in Children

Mesothelioma is most often found in older adults, but in a very small number of cases, this cancer is diagnosed in children.

There is not much research on mesothelioma in children. An international team of researchers looked at all mesothelioma cases occurring in children, teenagers and young adults diagnosed and treated in Europe. The team is called the European Cooperative Study Group on Pediatric Rare Tumors.

Understanding the Unique Challenges in Pediatric Cases

Mesothelioma is an aggressive and rare cancer. It develops in the lining of internal organs like the lungs and abdominal cavity. Reaching a diagnosis of this disease can be hard, and treatment can be even more difficult.

Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. This is a toxic mineral that is sometimes used in construction and manufacturing. It can take decades for symptoms of mesothelioma to appear after asbestos exposure.

This is why most mesothelioma cases are diagnosed in older adults. It is very rare to find a case of mesothelioma in a person within the first twenty years of their life. There are no clinical guidelines for treating mesothelioma in younger patients.

Mesothelioma in Children – A Comprehensive Study

In this study, the researchers found 33 cases of mesothelioma in patients younger than 21 years of age. These cases were diagnosed between 1987 and 2018. Most patients were diagnosed around 13 or 14 years of age.

Most of the patients had tumors in the lining of the abdomen, which is called peritoneal mesothelioma. Different types of treatments were used on these patients. Some received chemotherapy before surgery, some had surgery only, some had chemotherapy only, and others had more chemotherapy after surgery or palliative treatment.

After an average follow-up of almost seven years, the five-year survival rate was 82.3%, and the event-free survival rate was 45.1%.

Compared to adults with mesothelioma, there were fewer cases of asbestos exposure and better outcomes.


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. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33049597/

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