Trial Gene Therapy Treatment Helped Baby With Rare Tumor 'Bigger Than His Head'

Photo: (Photo : FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images)

A four-month-old baby born with a rare tumor "bigger than his head" is now out of the hospital after undergoing a trial gene therapy treatment that shrunk the unusual growth on his arm.

Reports cited that baby Cameron was released from the hospital in August after undergoing a trial for entrectinib at the Newcastle Hospital. He was the only patient in the study who used gene therapy to target the tumor proteins.

Doctors detected baby Cameron's tumor when his mother, Hayley Rolfe, was on her 32nd week of pregnancy. They informed her and her husband, Gary Rolfe, that their baby had a tumor on his arm, about nine centimeters.

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In April, when Cameron was born, doctors enlisted him for chemotherapy at three weeks old even as his tumor was not cancerous. However, Hayley could not see any changes in her son, so she agreed to the gene therapy treatment.

Results Happened 'Within a Couple of Days'

Hayley said that they noticed that Cameron's growth was shrinking within a couple of days of the entrectinib treatment. Cameron was also out of the hospital a week earlier than the doctor projected, which the parents saw as a "really positive" sign that the trial gene therapy treatment was indeed working for their son.

The baby's medical case happens in "one in 100,000" individuals, and the tumor developed because of an abnormality in the baby's genes. The mother said their world "crumbled" after the doctors informed them of their baby's condition, especially after they did everything right during the pregnancy.

"Being told your unborn baby might have cancer is just a whole different ball game," Hayley said.

Hayley gave birth by cesarean section since she would not be able to naturally deliver Cameron as the tumor was growing. Once the baby came out, Hayley and Gary didn't have any chance for skin contact since the little one was immediately placed in an incubator.

It took a while for the mother to touch her son, who was also treated with antibiotics and at least four blood transfusions before he was even a month old. However, doctors could not operate on Cameron just yet because he was too small for the procedure.

Meanwhile, the family has set up a fundraiser to help cover the cost of Cameron's medical needs. They have also received help from the Rainbow Trust Children's Charity for kids with life-threatening illnesses.

A Challenging Journey

Amid this challenging journey, Hayley and Gary also had to look after their four-year-old son, Fraser, who did not understand why his baby brother remained at the hospital. Hayley said they were fortunate to get some help from a support worker, Shelly Duck, who took care of Fraser when his parents had to work or be at the hospital to check up on Cameron.

The Rolfes are very grateful that Duck liked spending time with Fraser and gave him time and attention when they had to focus on Cameron. However, now that they're all at home, things are slowly looking up for the family as they continue to monitor the baby's progress.

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