Teenager’s mesothelioma diagnosis baffles doctors

4 Sep 2018 by under People
Peritoneales Mesotheliom CREDITHELLERHOFFWIKI 100x100 Teenagers mesothelioma diagnosis baffles doctors

Credit: Hellerhoff via Wikipedia

Tracey Greening worried last March when her daughter Macie’s stomach started swelling that she was having a reaction to gluten or dairy. But her diagnosis was far more troubling, and confusing. At just 14 years old, Macie was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that’s even more unlikely to develop in children and adolescents.

Her parents say she is one of nine children in the United Kingdom to have the disease, and one of just 20 youngsters to have the disease in the entire world.

Peritoneal is a rare form of mesothelioma that develops in the lining of the abdomen. Other types of mesothelioma can affect the lining of the lungs, heart and other organs. The disease is caused by asbestos exposure and can take 10 to 50 years to develop, which makes Macie’s case that much more unusual.

Asbestos contains microscopic fibers that are both durable and fire resistant, which made the mineral ideal for building and shipping materials like insulation and friction products. But because the fibers can be easily inhaled or swallowed, which can lead to the lung disease asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma, its use was completely banned in the U.K. in 1999. (It is still used in the U.S. but there are restrictions.) Materials containing asbestos can still be found in older buildings.

People at greatest risk of asbestos exposure are those who work in environments where asbestos is present. These workers can also bring asbestos fibers home on their clothing, putting others at risk for secondary asbestos exposure, another risk factor for asbestos-related disease. Doctors are not sure when, or even if, Macie was exposed to the highly carcinogenic material.

Since her diagnosis in April, Macie has endured four rounds of chemotherapy. Her doctors recently decided that since the chemo wasn’t working, they would stop the course and consider other options. One option was surgery. But last month, Macie had a laparoscopy during which doctors learned that surgery was not an option.

Macie has been approved for a new drug trial, and her parents are discussing whether this is a good option for their daughter. Until then, they are hopeful their daughter will continue fighting.

Daily Mail

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