Mesothelioma in Young Adults and Children


At age 21, Tamron Little was diagnosed with mesothelioma. She was shocked not only because she was diagnosed with cancer at such a young age, but also because it is a cancer that affects mainly older people who have been exposed to asbestos for decades (e.g. at work).
Mesothelioma is extremely rare in children and young adults – accounting for less than 5% of all diagnoses. In a study published in Oncotarget in June 2015, 12,345 mesothelioma patients were studied.

Only 2% of patients were younger than 40 at the time of initial diagnosis. Although rare, mesothelioma also occurs in young people; its characteristics differ from those of older patients. Further studies are needed to understand the interplay between genetic susceptibility and mineral fibre carcinogenesis in the pathogenesis of mesothelioma in young people (Thomas et al., 2015).

Possible causes of mesothelioma in young adults and children:• Exposure to asbestos in products, in the environment or through a family member
• Radiation exposure, including radiation therapy for other cancers
• In-utero exposure to the antibiotic isoniazid
• Genetic predisposition to mesothelioma