Mesothelioma from Ingesting Asbestos
In an unusual case of asbestos-caused cancer, it has been reported that a 23-year-old woman in the United Kingdom has likely developed mesothelioma due to her ingesting asbestos when she was a very small child.
Doctors have pointed out that Danielle Smalley has been diagnosed with the type of mesothelioma one sees ONLY when hazardous asbestos has been eaten by the victim.
This will generally occur in people Danielle’s age, who inadvertently ate asbestos pieces when they were young children. Danielle notes that she has no idea where she encountered the toxic mineral and has no recollection of eating it.
Nonetheless, she has been taken aback and saddened by the diagnosis as have others around her, notes an article in The Mirror, a popular UK newspaper.
“It’s been such a shock. I didn’t even know what asbestos was,” she told the newspaper.
“The type of mesothelioma I have means I’ve ingested it. I could have eaten something at a friend’s house, or in an old shed in the park.”
Her parents, who run an alarm installation business, say they have never worked with nor have come in contact with the material, which was banned in the United Kingdom right around the turn of the millennium.
While mesothelioma generally strikes older men who have worked in shipyards and factories, a diagnosis in someone so young is rare.
Statistics in the UK show that only 3 cases of meso in individuals under 25 years old have been reported in that country since 2009, including Danielle’s case.
Danielle’s tumors were found behind her bowel, not in the pleura, which is more common. The location of the tumors is why doctors ascertained that she must have ingested the material.
For months, however, they thought she was suffering from irritable bowel syndrome as mesothelioma in a woman so young didn’t even enter the minds of the doctors who were caring for Danielle.
Now, she faces months of treatment including “hot chemotherapy”, which will leave her infertile. Luckily, there is time for her to have her eggs extracted and kept frozen in case she and a future partner wish to have children of their own.
Danielle’s case helps stress the importance of keeping small children away from areas that contain asbestos and also underlines the importance of asbestos material management in schools, homes, churches, and other public locations.
Asbestos materials should always be properly maintained or should be encased to avoid exposure. Parents should be ultra-vigilant when they are with their children in old structures that may contain the material.