By Sara Bondell
Jayda McCann, an Irish beauty blogger and social media influencer, has died from a rare type cancer at age 24.
McCann shared her battle online with her 70,000 followers after she was diagnosed with a perivascular epithelioid cell tumor, or PEComa, in March 2018. A PEComa is a tumor of the early blood vessel walls, support walls or pericytes, which are cells that surround capillaries. In McCann’s case, the tumor originated in her vulva before spreading to her lungs.
“For something that is extraordinarily rare, we do know a bit about PEComa,” said Dr. Damon Reed, a medical oncologist in Moffitt Cancer Center’s Sarcoma Department. “It may be related to either activation of the cell pathway which helps cells take up sugar, which could be associated with an inherited condition called Tuberous Sclerosis. PEComa could also be related to a specific gene translocation.”
Reed says the tumor usually presents as a painless mass and it is most often treated with surgery. In some cases, patients receive chemotherapy and/or radiation.
McCann, whose father was battling prostate cancer at the same time, underwent radiation therapy in March for the tumor in her lung. In a post a few weeks later, she told followers the cancer had spread to her brain, causing seizures and some paralysis. She passed away peacefully surrounded by friends and family on October 24.
Reed says a targeted therapy for PEComa showing promising results was presented at this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting. He emphasizes the critical need for more research on rare tumor types like PEComa.