Restoring Hope and Healing: A One-in-a-Million Condition

Selena Norwood was having an ordinary day when she brought her 10-month-old daughter, Eva, to the pediatrician for an ear infection. After all, ear infections rank second among the most commonly diagnosed illnesses in children in the United States (the common cold comes first).

But everything changed when the pediatrician noticed the baby showed signs of precocious puberty with advanced development of her external female anatomy. She immediately referred the family to Valley Children’s, where diagnostic testing revealed a tumor in little Eva’s adrenal glands.

“My heart sank,” said Selena. “I dropped my phone and couldn’t speak. No parent ever wants to hear that your child has cancer.”

Affecting only 0.72 persons per one million1, adrenocortical tumors are extremely rare – especially in children. Most of the 200 to 250 cases reported in the U.S. each year are diagnosed in adults. Of the small percentage of pediatric cases last year, three came to Valley Children’s.

“That number of cases is very unusual even on a national level,” said Dr. Nedim Çakan, medical director of Valley Children’s endocrinology department.

Collaborative expertise

Caring for Eva's rare condition required a multi-disciplinary approach. Dr. Çakan reached out to fellow pediatric specialists at Valley Children’s to develop a comprehensive treatment plan for the toddler.

“Our team of experts from oncology, endocrinology and pediatric surgery came together and discussed our treatment plan with the family,” said Dr. Vonda Crouse, pediatric oncologist. “It was clear in Eva’s case that surgery was needed as soon as possible.”

With our depth and breadth of pediatric specialty care, Valley Children’s has the knowledge and experience to treat rare cases like Eva’s. “The doctors were very optimistic,” said Selena. “They gave me hope.”

Selena received promising news from the pathology report. Eva would not need chemotherapy for the non-aggressive tumor. Following surgery, genetic testing at Valley Children’s ruled out growth disorders that may have explained the symptoms first spotted by Eva’s pediatrician.

“As a mom, I will always worry, of course,” said Selena. “But I’m glad Eva is a normal 2-year-old now, perfectly fine and happy.” Valley Children’s will continue monitoring Eva as she grows, so this child with a one-in-a-million condition can have a future filled with extraordinary days.

Source: The National Cancer Institute