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In 2009, eight-year-old Sophie Fry was rushed to a Yorkshire hospital with intense stomach pain. An ultrasound exam revealed the little girl had a type of ovarian cancer classified as a malignant germ cell tumor.
Sophie Fry's cancer diagnosis might shock you. It’s possible you didn’t even know a child could be diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Indeed, it’s rare.
Ovarian cancer usually happens to women older than 50. Sophie Fry is believed to be the youngest Briton ever diagnosed with the disease.
Yes, little girls can get ovarian cancer.
Gia Vanni Hendricks of Louisville, Ky. was just 7 years old when, she too, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008. After a round of chemotherapy, the then second grader at Stopher Elementary returned to school cancer free.
The truth is ovarian tumors may occur at any time in infancy, childhood or adolescence. The most common age is between the ages of 10 and 14 years.
“Ovarian tumors are the most common tumors that babies are born with, accounting for one percent of all malignant tumors found in children from birth to the time she’s 17,” said Marc Laufer, MD, chief of gynecology at Boston Children’s hospital.
In the United States, about 1.3 percent of ovarian cancers diagnosed are in people younger than age 20.
Fortunately, most ovarian tumors (about 90 percent) are not cancerous (benign).
Three types of cancerous (malignant) ovarian tumors are most common in the very young:
- Germ cell tumors are the most common gonadal tumor type in children and teenagers and comprise about 4 percent of all childhood cancers, according to Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford.
Germ cell tumors are typically found in the ovaries or testes and can be either malignant or benign.
Germ cell tumors tend to grow quickly, can become very large, and can cause significant pain in the stomach or back, as well as visible stomach enlargement. In many cases surgery is recommended to remove the tumor and affected organs.
Experts say continuous follow-up care is essential for a child diagnosed with a germ cell tumor and other cancer treatments may be required.