Mom passes stage IV cancer to baby: Report

baby stage 4 cancer

(CBS News) Cancer in babies is relatively rare, making Addison Cox's case particularly heartbreaking. But the Phoenix baby is battling an even more unusual condition- her cancer was passed on to her from her mother during pregnancy.

Addison's is only the ninth documented case since 2003 of a mother passing cancer to her baby and the first Phoenix Children's Hospital has ever seen, KPHO CBS 5 in Phoenix reported.

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A few weeks after Addison Cox was born, her mom Briana, a Phoenix police officer, was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic melanoma. According to the American Cancer Society, Stage IV melanomas are very hard to cure since they often spread to other areas of the body. People with advanced metastatic melanoma often die within six to ten months.

"Doctors told us it wasn't possible for Addison to get cancer while Briana was pregnant with her, that's just unheard of," James Cox, Addison's father, told KPHO.

But shortly after Addison's birth, the parents got the news they never thought they'd hear: Briana's cancer had passed on to her baby girl. Addison had stage IV cancer that spread to her brain, heart, liver, and other organs.

"It flipped our world upside down," said Cox. "First you take a deep breath, then you say a few things that aren't allowed to be said on TV, and then as my wife would say, you suck it up and press on."

Briana lost her fight with cancer on February 12, according to KPHO. Now her family and friends are using the news to spread awareness about melanoma.

"There's got to be more information out there," Cox said. "People have got to understand it's not just spots on the skin." Cox said his late wife would want to encourage people to wear sunscreen and a hat, and get regular check-ups.

The family is now raising funds to help with Addison's medical treatment. Doctors at the hospital received special FDA approval to give Addison a chemotherapy pill that has shown promise of slowing or stopping some of the tumors. But her prognosis is roughly 18 months.

The National Cancer Institute has more on childhood cancer.