Mesothelioma is frequently thought of as a disease affecting the older population. Indeed, the average age of diagnosis is 60. The incubation period for mesothelioma can be over 40 years. It may take between 20 and 50 years after exposure to asbestos for symptoms to occur. However, in some rare, heartbreaking cases, children and young adults have been known to contract mesothelioma.
This small segment of the population is a puzzle to many doctors. How could these children have developed mesothelioma? The research on this is mixed, and no firm conclusions have yet been reached. Some doctors believe that the development of the disease is spontaneous, perhaps aided by a genetic predisposition. Other research suggests that radiation or in-utero exposure to certain drugs may be to blame.
Asbestos exposure may also play a role. Children can be exposed directly to asbestos in their home or school. Some toys are made with asbestos. They could also suffer from secondhand exposure. If a parent comes home from work with hazardous materials on his or her clothes, skin or hair, the child may inhale the fibers in that way.
It is very difficult to diagnose a child with mesothelioma, as it is so unusual in children that the doctors often don't consider it until other possibilities have been exhausted. The symptoms manifest in children as they do in adults:difficulty breathing, weight loss, frequent coughing fits and shortness of breath. He or she may also have fevers, fatigue and abdominal pain.
Treatments for childhood mesothelioma include chemotherapy or radiation therapy to reduce symptoms. If caught early enough, the tumor can be wholly or partially removed surgically. The prognosis for a child with mesothelioma is similar to that for an adult.
Once diagnosed, a patient can survive for four to 18 months. However, this cancer is fatal and children with mesothelioma rarely reach adulthood.
If you or someone you know has been exposed to asbestos, or if you are concerned that exposure in your workplace may have affected your children, contact Sokolove Law today to learn more about your legal rights and options regarding a possible asbestos lawsuit.