What Is Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma? MasterChef Junior's Ben Watkins, 14, Dies From Disease

MasterChef Junior star Ben Watkins has died at the age of 14 from a rare disease known as angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma (AFH.)

AFH is an extremely rare, soft-tissue tumor that typically occurs in children, adolescents and young adults.

First identified in 1979, the tumor is usually found in the extremities and, less commonly, in the torso, head and neck, according to the Atlas of Genetics and Cytogenetics in Oncology and Haematology.

In around 20 percent of cases, the tumor affects deeper structures, such as the skeleton and muscles.

A minority of patients with this tumor experience symptoms such as anemia (a deficiency of red blood cells,) weight loss and fever. Other rarer symptoms include pain or tenderness at the tumor site.

According to a study published in the Journal of Radiology Case Reports, the majority of patients (around 73 percent) are free of disease after having the tumor surgically removed, although around 23 percent develop a recurrent disease. And in nearly 9 percent of AFH cases, the tumor metastasizes, meaning it spreads to other sites in the body.

The mortality rate of the disease is just over four percent, however, the authors of the Journal of Radiology study say this may be an underestimate.

Watkins was diagnosed with the disease shortly after his 13th birthday and sadly passed away at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago on Monday, his family said in a statement.

The family said doctor's had told them that Watkins was one of only six people in the world currently diagnosed with this disease.

Watkins was a fan-favorite on MasterChef Junior, the culinary reality show featuring celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. He appeared on the show's sixth season when he was just 11, placing in the top 18.

Watkins' short life was marked by tragedy. The aspiring chef's parents died three years ago after his father shot and killed his mother, before killing himself.

"Our Ben went home to be with his mother this afternoon after a year-and-a-half-long battle with Cancer," his family said in a statement. "After losing both of his parents in September 2017, we have marveled at Ben's strength, courage and love for life," a statement from the family said. He never, ever complained. Ben was and will always be the strongest person we know."

"When Ben's rare illness was shared with the world, he was so heartened by the outpouring of love he received from every corner of the globe. We cannot thank this community enough for holding our family up in prayer and for all that you've done. Ben suffered more than his share in his fourteen years on this Earth but we take solace in that his suffering is finally over and in that, in the end, Ben knew he was loved by so many."

Among those paying tribute to Watkins following the news of his death was Gordon Ramsay, who posted a touching Twitter message on Tuesday.

"We lost a Master of the @MasterChefJrFOX kitchen today. Ben you were an incredibly talented home cook and even stronger young man. Your young life had so many tough turns but you always persevered. Sending all the love to Ben Watkins' family with this terrible loss Gx," Ramsay said.

Stock image: Artist's illustration of malignant tumor cells dividing. MasterChef Junior star Ben Watkins has died at the age of 14 due to a rare tumor known as angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma. iStock