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Unusual Cancers of Childhood Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Thoracic Cancers

Thoracic cancers include breast cancer, bronchial adenomas, bronchial carcinoid tumors, pleuropulmonary blastoma, esophageal tumors, thymomas, thymic carcinomas, cardiac tumors, and mesothelioma. The prognosis, diagnosis, classification, and treatment of these thoracic cancers are discussed below. It must be emphasized that these cancers are seen very infrequently in patients younger than 15 years, and most of the evidence is derived from case series.[1]

Breast Cancer

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Fibroadenoma

The most frequent breast tumor seen in children is a fibroadenoma.[2,3] These tumors can be observed and many will regress without a need for biopsy. However, rare malignant transformation leading to phyllodes tumors has been reported.[4] Sudden rapid enlargement of a suspected fibroadenoma is an indication for needle biopsy or excision. Phyllodes tumors can be managed by wide local excision without mastectomy.[4]

Malignant breast tumors

Incidence, epidemiology, and treatment

Breast cancer has been reported in both males and females younger than 21 years.[5,6,7,8,9,10] A review of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database shows that 75 cases of malignant breast tumors in females 19 years or younger were identified from 1973 to 2004.[11] Fifteen percent of these patients had in situ disease, 85% had invasive disease, 55% of the tumors were carcinomas, and 45% of the tumors were sarcomas—most of which were phyllodes tumors. Only three patients in the carcinoma group presented with metastatic disease, while 11 patients (27%) had regionally advanced disease. All patients with sarcomas presented with localized disease. Of the carcinoma patients, 85% underwent surgical resection, and 10% received adjuvant radiation therapy. Of the sarcoma patients, 97% had surgical resection, and 9% received radiation. The 5- and 10-year survival rates for patients with sarcomatous tumors were both 90%; for patients with carcinomas, the 5-year survival rate was 63% and the 10-year survival rate was 54%.

Treatment of adolescents and young adults

Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among adolescent and young adult (AYA) women aged 15 to 39 years, accounting for about 14% of all AYA cancer diagnoses.[12] Breast cancer in this age group has a more aggressive course and worse outcome than in older women. Expression of hormone receptors for estrogen, progesterone, and human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2) on breast cancer in the AYA group is also different than in older women and correlates with a worse prognosis.[13] Treatment in the AYA group is similar to that in older women. However, unique aspects of management must include attention to genetic implications (i.e., familial breast cancer syndromes) and fertility.[14]

Female survivors of Hodgkin lymphoma

There is an increased lifetime risk of breast cancer in female survivors of Hodgkin lymphoma who were treated with radiation to the chest area; however, breast cancer is also seen in patients who were treated for any cancer that was treated with chest irradiation.[9,15,16,17,18] Carcinomas are more frequent than sarcomas. Mammograms with adjunctive breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) should start at age 25 years or 10 years postexposure to radiation therapy (whichever came last). (Refer to the PDQ summary on the Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer for more information about secondary breast cancers.) Breast tumors may also occur as metastatic deposits from leukemia, rhabdomyosarcoma, other sarcomas, or lymphoma (particularly in patients who are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus).

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WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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