In some cases, cancer can pass from mother to child. Doctors now believe that cancer may have been transmitted by inhalation to the lungs during two children’s birth in Japan.

Pregnant Mothers with Cancer

An estimated one in 1,000 children is born to a mother with cancer. A child develops cancer from a mother with cancer in exceptional cases, about 1 in 500,000 children. Cancer cells can reach the fetus through the placenta.

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Researchers in Japan believe cancer may have been transmitted to two pediatric patients by inhaling cervical cancer cells at birth. Boys aged 23 months and six years were diagnosed with lung cancer. Both mothers were diagnosed with cervical cancer.

The Relationship Between Tumors of Mothers and Their Children

The researchers found that maternal cervical tumors are genetically similar to the lung tumors developed in both boys. Tumors in boys also lacked the Y chromosome, suggesting that children prone to cancer by their mother.

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They contained the same genetic mutations and even the DNA of HPV (human papillomavirus), which is considered a significant cause of cervical cancer. Children’s tumors come from the same clone or group of identical cells as their mother’s tumors.

“Detailed genomic screening and comparisons of mother and child cancer cells provide clear evidence,” said Sir Mel Greaves, founding director of the Center for Evolution and Cancer at the Cancer Research Institute in London.

Pediatric Oncologist from Philadelphia, Dr. Theodore Laetsch, finds the study interesting news but is inclined to believe that cancer cells have reached these children through the placenta, not by inhalation.

The case study was published on January 7 in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Source:, featured image by samuel Lee from Pixabay.