Scientists described a case, which has not yet been analogous in medical practice. The baby breathed in the mother’s cancer cells during childbirth and thus contracted lung cancer. At the same time, a similar misfortune, apparently, happened to two small patients at once.
Details are in scientific article, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Doctors discovered lung cancer in two boys. The first at that time was almost two years old, and the second – six years old. Both children required surgery, with the entire left lung removed from the six-year-old.
At that time, the mothers of both young patients had already died of cervical cancer. This prompted specialists to take a closer look at the cancer cells from their children’s tumors.
It turned out that there is no Y chromosome in those, that is, these cells did not appear in the man’s body. In addition, in both cases, the sick child’s cancer cells had a strong genetic similarity to the mother’s cells. Finally, they carried traces of the human papillomavirus (HPV) genome. To be clear, HPV infection is a fairly common cause of cervical cancer.
All the facts indicated that the tumors in the children’s bodies came from the cancer cells of their mothers. But how could they get into the child’s body?
There are cases when the mother’s cancer cells entered the fetus through the placenta. This is a huge rarity: only two out of a million women with cancer in childbirth experience such a disaster. But in this case, the children develop a tumor of many organs and tissues at once. Meanwhile, in both small patients, tumors were present only in the lungs. Moreover, they were located along the bronchi, as if cancer cells had entered the body through the respiratory tract.
Scientists believe that it was so. The children simply breathed in the malignant cells along with the natural fluids that were in the mother’s birth canal. The uninvited guests took root in the lungs of newborns and eventually formed malignant tumors. Such cases have never been described in medical practice, but theoretically nothing is impossible in them.
The researchers point out that such dramas are probably extremely rare. Nevertheless, they became a new reminder of how dangerous cervical cancer caused by the human papillomavirus is.
By the way, now everyone can vaccinate from HPV. Usually doctors recommend getting vaccinated before first sexual intercourse, but adults (both men and women) may well reduce the risks by getting vaccinated after consulting a specialist. As it has now become clear, every woman can thus save not only herself, but also her unborn child from trouble.