10-Year-Old Girl Battles Rare Breast Cancer

For many of the estimated 180,000 women whose doctors will tell them they have breast cancer this year, the diagnosis will no doubt come as a shock.

But for the parents of 10-year-old Hannah Powell-Auslam of Fullerton, Calif., who learned in early April that their daughter had breast cancer, the news was particularly hard to swallow.

"It should be the furthest thing from your mind," Hannah's mother Carrie Auslam told reporters from KCAL-TV in Los Angeles. "Ten-year-olds don't get breast cancer."

A fifth-grade student recently underwent a mastectomy after a cancer diagnosis.
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For Hannah, the realization that she would have to deal with a disease normally associated with women many times her age was a difficult one to take.

"I told my mom, I just wanna be a normal kid," she told reporters. "I want to go back to school, play sports, hang out with my friends. So I started crying."

According to the family Web site documenting Hannah's fight against her cancer, Hannah underwent surgery to remove her breast on May 7, and she will likely progress to chemotherapy to minimize the chances that the cancer will spread or recur.

But Hannah's family said that the girl has endured the diagnosis with remarkable strength. Today, after an operation to remove the tumor and the surrounding breast tissue, her parents say on a family blog that she is back home and now has become a young symbol of the fight against cancer.

Video: 10-year-old girl suffers from breast cancer.
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Breast Cancer Exceedingly Rare in Kids

As of Monday evening, requests by ABC News to contact both the family and Hannah's doctors were unsuccessful. Media reports have identified her cancer as an invasive ductal carcinoma at Stage IIA -- a type of cancer that oncologists say has rarely, if ever, been found in a girl of Hannah's age.

However, Hannah's father Jeremy Auslam said on the Web site that while his daughter had originally been diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, it was later changed to invasive secretory carcinoma. This type of cancer is also rare in girls of Hannah's age and younger; it has only ever been documented in perhaps a few hundred girls in this age group.

But Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said that the change in diagnosis is good news, if true.

"This type of cancer is also extremely rare, but in children is more common than ductal carcinoma," he said. "The rarity of this disease makes information about it scarce; nonetheless it is thought to be a slow growing tumor with an excellent prognosis."

Hannah's Cancer a Scary Diagnosis

Regardless of what type of tumor it was, any kind of cancer is a heavy diagnosis to handle for a child Hannah's age, noted Lillie Shockney, administrative director of the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center in Baltimore, Md.

"This is the youngest case I've ever heard of," Shockney said. "I find for youngsters at this age its best to not be focusing on the kind of cancer it is, but that it is cancer and that surgery and other treatment are needed.

"It's hard enough for adults to get their heads around breast cancer, much less a child."

While Hannah's story is ultimately a hopeful one, Shockney said that it is also highly unusual, and she added that she does not feel that it would be appropriate for parents to believe breast cancer is a major risk for their young daughters.

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