Research shows that two children from Japan have been affected by lung cancer as the infant inhaled cancer cells from their mother during or before their birth. About 1 in 1000 babies are born to mothers who are affected by cancer and about 1 in 500000 of these newborns develop cancer from their mother. Even Though it is a sporadic case, the researchers have found out that the cancer cells can travel through their mother’s blood cells and get into the placenta.
This research shows how lung cancer is diagnosed in a pair of young patients where one is 23 months old and the other is 6 years old. In both cases, the children were admitted to the hospital with symptoms of illness like coughing and chest pain. Both of the boy’s mothers were diagnosed with cervical cancer.
The 23 months old boy’s mother was diagnosed three months after the boy was born and the 6-year-old boy’s mother was diagnosed during her pregnancy. In order to realize the link between the tumor cells in the mother and their children, the scientists did research on both the mother and their children’s tumor tissues and the normal tissues. They specifically looked for the mutation of 114 cancer-related genes.
And as a result, the researchers found that the boy’s tumor cells had many genetic similarities with the mother’s cervical tumors. Both the boys’ tumors lacked the Y chromosomes(one of the two sex chromosomes passed down from the father) which shows that the tumor is inherited from their mothers and they both also held DNA from the Human Papillomavirus(HPV), which is about cause cervical cancer in most cases.
Sir Mel Greaves, founding director of The Centre for Evolution and Cancer at The Institute of Cancer Research in London, who was not part of the study also said that “detailed genomic scrutiny and comparison of the cancer cells from mother and child provide unambiguous evidence” which means that the two tumors are from the same clone.
Finally, the researchers conclude that in most of the mother-fetus cancer cases the infant inhales cancer cells which makes the placenta spread cancer cells to the brain, bones, liver, other tissues, and the widely seen cases are affected with lung cancer. Hence the researchers recommend that mothers with cervical cancer can opt for C-section which helps them to avoid getting affected cancer cells.