Mesothelioma usually occurs in older men with years of asbestos exposure in heavy manufacturing and industrial jobs. But it can rarely occur in children and young adults, as well. Doctors say that mesothelioma in young people is spontaneous and does not have a clear cause.
Most people who get mesothelioma are 65 or older who were exposed to asbestos for years on the job. But around the world, doctors report a few hundred mesothelioma cases in young adults and children. (asbestos.com)
This had led many researchers to look for other possible causes of mesothelioma that occur in young adults and children. But mesothelioma in young people is so rare it is challenging to study.
Oncotarget Study in 2015
However, some limited studies have been done on the subject of mesothelioma occurring in young people. A study published in Oncotarget in 2015 studies 12,345 mesothelioma subjects. Just 2% of the patients were under 40 when they were diagnosed. (Ocotarget.com)
The study found the following possible causes of the disease in young adults and children:
- Asbestos exposure in the home, environment or in products
- Radiation exposure, including radiation therapy for various types of cancer
- Exposure to the antibiotic isoniazid in utero
- Genetic predisposition to develop mesothelioma
Being Exposed to Asbestos in Childhood
Asbestos exposure usually is a threat to adults working in heavy industry, steel production, construction, and the military. But there are several ways children can be exposed to asbestos.
Children’s Products That Contain Asbestos
Some talc products, such as Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder, have been found to contain small amounts of asbestos that have led to mesothelioma personal injury lawsuits and millions in verdicts and settlements. (Insurancejournal.com). Johnson & Johnson claims it no longer makes any talc with asbestos, but the lawsuits continue to come in by the thousands from people who used the product decades earlier.
Before the 1980s, baby powder was sometimes made with talc with asbestos traces in it. Some baby powder in other countries is still made with asbestos-tainted talc.
Also, in 2015, independent tests by the Environmental Working Group Action Fund found traces of asbestos in crayons and toy crime lab kits made in China.
Further, in 2017, Claire’s and Justice recalled several cosmetic products over worries of asbestos contamination. The FDA also confirmed the test results in 2019. (NOLA.com)
Asbestos in Schools and Homes
In the United States, old construction materials containing asbestos are still present in buildings constructed before 1980. Millions of homes and almost 50% of schools were built when asbestos was used heavily in construction in the 1950s and 1960s.
Any renovation or demolition work that disturbs asbestos products can release asbestos fibers into the air. Some of the common asbestos-containing materials in schools and homes are:
- Ceiling tiles
- Pipe insulation
- Vinyl flooring
- Duct wrap for HVAC systems
- Pipe insulation
Secondhand Asbestos Exposure
When a worker is exposed to asbestos on the job and they transport asbestos dust home, this can lead to secondhand asbestos exposure in the family. A 40-year-old Cleveland professor was the victim of second-hand asbestos exposure as a child and got mesothelioma. He eventually was awarded $27.5 million in one of the largest mesothelioma lawsuits. (Cleveland.com)
Regulations today require companies to offer decontamination facilities to workers who handle asbestos. They must fully remove their contaminated clothing, shower, and change into clean, uncontaminated clothes before they go home.
Children could be heavily exposed to asbestos if they reside in a place where asbestos is found in the soil or sand. Also, some communities have been directly damaged by asbestos companies, leading to situations where children played in soil that contained asbestos, such as in Libby, Montana.
Other children have played in mounds of asbestos factory waste, such as in Ambler, Pennsylvania, and got mesothelioma when they were older.
Other Possible Causes of Mesothelioma in Young Adults and Children
Most cases of asbestos cancer in children do not trace back to asbestos exposure, so there are other potential causes:
Radiation exposure is a small risk for mesothelioma. There have been a few recorded cases of pediatric mesothelioma where the child received radiation treatment for other cancers.
Mesothelioma in children has also been linked to isoniazid exposure. This is an antibiotic that is used to treat tuberculosis before the child is born.
Some children may be more genetically pre-dispositioned to mesothelioma if they have certain mutations in their DNA. In 2013, a research team found that the BAP1 gene mutation may increase your risk of developing cancer after being exposed to asbestiform mineral fibers.
How to Treat Mesothelioma in Young People
Young patients get the same type of treatments for asbestos cancer as older patients. The most-used treatment is chemotherapy using pemetrexed and cisplatin. The dosing can be adjusted according to the size and weight of the child.
A young patient is more likely to be eligible for surgery to remove tumors. Surgery in the early stages of mesothelioma gives them the best chances for survival.
The 2015 study mentioned earlier in this article found several differences in patients under 40:
- Men are three times more likely to develop the disease than women. Pleural mesothelioma is much more common than peritoneal mesothelioma (which is more treatable).
- In young patients, there is little difference in the rate of asbestos cancer for males and males or the incidence of the two major types of mesothelioma.
Younger patients tend to live longer and have a higher five-year survivability rate than adult patients. This is usually because older patients often have other health problems that interfere with cancer treatments.
Request Immediate Mesothelioma Legal Help
With over $30 billion available for victims through asbestos bankruptcy trust funds, you are entitled to financial compensations without ever filing an asbestos, lung cancer or mesothelioma lawsuit. You need legal representation to get started. Mesothelioma & lung cancer victims qualify immediately. Complete the form or call us toll-free (800) 352-0871 immediately.