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Can Kids Get Skin Cancer

What Are Symptoms Of Melanoma

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Symptoms of melanoma include changes in skin lesions or moles, or the development of new moles that can be remembered by the ABCDEs:

  • Asymmetry: Irregularly shaped, each half looks different
  • Border: Jagged, uneven, irregular edges
  • Color: Mole is several different colors
  • Diameter: Size greater than ¼ inch
  • Evolution: Changes in size, shape, or color

Other symptoms of melanoma skin lesions include:

When melanoma spreads symptoms may include:

Key Points About Skin Cancer In Children

  • Skin cancer is rare in children.

  • Skin cancer is more common in people with light skin, light-colored eyes, and blond or red hair.

  • Follow the ABCDE rule to tell the difference between a normal mole and melanoma.

  • Biopsy is used to diagnose skin cancer.

  • Skin cancer can be treated with surgery, medicine, and radiation.

Staying out of the sun is the best way to prevent skin cancer.

What Is The Outlook For Skin Cancer In Children

Skin cancer in children is on the rise. Theres been an increase in awareness of the dangers of too much UV exposure and the importance of skin cancer screenings. Teach your child how to check for suspicious moles, sores, and growths, and schedule annual visits with your pediatrician.

If your child is at higher risk for melanoma or you or your pediatrician notice any suspicious lesions, have your child see a dermatologist. This will help you catch pediatric melanoma or any other type of skin cancer in children at its earliest, most treatable stage.

Treating early-stage melanoma is usually successful. Surgery may leave little or no scar if the melanoma is diagnosed when its still small.

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How Early Do You Start Checking

When youve just had a baby, the last thing you want to think about is anything bad happening to your child, especially cancer. But thats when your skin cancer checks should begin. From birth on, says Dr. Judith Hellman, associate clinical professor of dermatology and board certified dermatologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Some children are born with congenital moles and some of those can pose a risk of skin cancer. Its good to have a dermatologist examine any growths as early as one finds them.

So how likely is it that you could discover skin cancer in your baby or very young child? Dr. Urquhart says that skin cancer is rare before kids go through puberty. The most common skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are rare because they usually occur after years of sun damage.

Dr. Urquhart adds, Melanoma is also very rare in prepubertal children. Risks for melanoma are linked to family history, history of multiple sunburns as a child, history of precancerous moles, fair skin and greater than 50 moles.

What Is Skin Cancer

Can Your Kids Get Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is a malignant tumor that grows in the skin cells. Common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Skin cancer is not common in children, however, the incidence of melanoma in children is increasing by 2 percent each year. Melanoma accounts for up to 3 percent of all pediatric cancers.

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How Can I Protect Myself From Skin Cancer

Have your doctor check your skin if you are concerned about a change.Your doctor may take a sample of your skin to check for cancer cells.

Ask your doctor about your risk of skin cancer:

  • Some skin conditions and certain medicines may make your skin more sensitive to damage from the sun.
  • Medicines or medical conditions that suppress the immune system may make you more likely to develop skin cancer.
  • Having scars or skin ulcers increases your risk.
  • Exposure to a high level of arsenic increases your risk.

Stay out of the sun as much as you can. Whenever possible, avoid exposure to the sun from10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you work or play outside, then

  • Try to wear long sleeves, long pants, and a hat that shades your face, ears, and neck with a brim all around.
  • Use sunscreen with a label that says it is broad spectrum or is at least SPF 15 and can filter both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Wear sunglasses that filter UV to protect your eyes and the skin around your eyes.
  • If you are concerned about having a low level of vitamin D from not being in the sun, talk with your doctor about supplements.

Don’t use tanning beds, tanning booths, or sunlamps.

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Skin Cancer In Children: What To Look For

In adults, melanomas tend to appear as darker spots, but in children, melanomas are frequently whitish, yellowish, or red. As with adults, any changes on the skin, especially changes to moles, should be brought to the attention of a doctor. The general recommendations of the ABCDES of what to look for in skin checks apply to children and adults:

  • A Asymmetrical shape, like moles that are irregular or not symmetrical
  • B Border, moles that have an unclear or unusual border
  • C Color, especially the presence of more than one color in a mole
  • D Diameter, moles that are larger than 6 mm
  • E Evolution, which involves any changes to a mole over time3

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In Children

Breast cancer may cause any of the following signs. Check with your childs doctor if your child has any of the following:

  • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area.
  • A change in the size or shape of the breast.
  • A dimple or puckering in the skin of the breast.
  • A nipple turned inward into the breast.
  • Scaly, red, or swollen skin on the breast, nipple, or areola .
  • Dimples in the breast that look like the skin of an orange, called peau dorange.

Other conditions that are not breast cancer may cause these same signs.

How Is Skin Cancer Diagnosed In A Child

The faces of pediatric melanoma

The healthcare provider will examine your child’s skin. Tell the healthcare provider:

  • When you first noticed the skin problem

  • If it oozes fluid or bleeds, or gets crusty

  • If its changed in size, color, or shape

  • If your child has pain or itching

Tell the healthcare provider if your child has had skin cancer in the past, and if other your family members have had skin cancer.

Your child’s healthcare provider will likely take a small piece of tissue from a mole or other skin mark that may look like cancer. The tissue is sent to a lab. A doctor called a pathologist looks at the tissue under a microscope. He or she may do other tests to see if cancer cells are in the sample. The biopsy results will likely be ready in a few days or a week. Your child’s healthcare provider will tell you the results. He or she will talk with you about other tests that may be needed if cancer is found.

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Sun Safety For Children And Babies

Melanoma is among the most common forms of cancer for young adults 15-29. Some experts blame the inappropriate use of sunscreen, saying that people do not apply enough lotion or do not reapply it as frequently as required. Products can no longer claim to be waterproof, only water-resistant, and labels must note a time limit of either 40 or 80 minutes before the sunscreen is ineffective.

Sunscreen is just one of the defenses against the harmful effect of UV radiation. Strategies such as seeking shade and dressing children in sun-protective clothing are just as important. A bad sunburn in childhood or adolescence doubles the risk of melanoma later in life, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Rates of skin cancerincluding melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancercontinue to rise, even in young people. Parents need to be extra vigilant about sun protection all the time. Just one blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life. Young skin is delicate, thinner, and produces less melanin, a skin protecting pigment. Ultra violet rays reach the skins pigment producing melanin cells, called melanocytes, and cause DNA damage to the skin.

Should I Take My Child To The Dermatologist What To Know About Childhood Skin Cancer

Diaper rash, chicken pox, eczema there are lot of childhood health concerns on every parents radar. Skin cancer may not top the list of things parents worry about, but those with a family history of the disease may wonder about their childs risk. Heres what you need to know about childhood skin cancer, and when its time to take your child to a dermatologist.

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Can Melanoma Be Cured

Melanoma that’s caught early, when it’s still on the surface of the skin, can be cured.

Untreated melanoma can grow downward into the skin until it reaches the blood vessels and lymphatic system. This lets it travel to distant organs, like the lungs or the brain. That’s why early detection is so important.

Brain And Spinal Cord Tumors

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Brain and spinal cord tumors are the second most common cancers in children, making up about 26% of childhood cancers. There are many types of brain and spinal cord tumors, and the treatment and outlook for each is different.

Most brain tumors in children start in the lower parts of the brain, such as the cerebellum or brain stem. They can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, blurred or double vision, dizziness, seizures, trouble walking or handling objects, and other symptoms. Spinal cord tumors are less common than brain tumors in both children and adults.

For more information see Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors in Children.

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How Is Skin Cancer Diagnosed

There are two main tests used to find skin cancer.

A specialist might oil the area youre worried about and then look at it using a dermatoscope an instrument that magnifies the area.

You might need to have a biopsy, which is when a sample of the skin is taken, usually under local anaesthetic , and then looked at under a microscope for signs of cancer.You can find out more in our Getting diagnosed section.

What Are The Symptoms Of Skin Cancer In A Child

Symptoms of basal cell carcinoma appear on areas exposed to the sun, such as the head, face, neck, arms, and hands. The symptoms can include:

  • A small, raised bump that is shiny or pearly, and may have small blood vessels

  • A small, flat spot that is scaly, irregularly shaped, and pale, pink, or red

  • A spot that bleeds easily, then heals and appears to go away, then bleeds again in a few weeks

  • A growth with raised edges, a lower area in the center, and brown, blue, or black areas

Symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma appear on areas exposed to the sun, such as the head, face, neck, arms, and hands. They can also appear on other parts of the body, such as skin in the genital area. The symptoms can include:

  • A rough or scaly bump that grows quickly

  • A wart-like growth that may bleed or crust over.

  • Flat, red patches on the skin that are irregularly shaped, and may or may not bleed

Symptoms of melanoma include a change in a mole, or a new mole that has ABCDE traits such as:

  • Asymmetry. One half of the mole does not match the other half.

  • Border irregularity. The edges of the mole are ragged or irregular.

  • Color. The mole has different colors in it. It may be tan, brown, black, red, or other colors. Or it may have areas that appear to have lost color.

  • Diameter. The mole is bigger than 6 millimeters across, about the size of a pencil eraser. But some melanomas can be smaller.

  • Evolving. A mole changes in size, shape, or color.

Other symptoms of melanoma can include a mole that:

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What Are The Risk Factors For Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is more common in fair-skinned people, especially those with blond or red hair, who have light-colored eyes. Skin cancer is rare in children. However, no one is safe from skin cancer. Other risk factors include:

  • Family history of melanoma
  • Sun exposure. The amount of time spent unprotected in the sun directly affects your child’s risk of skin cancer.
  • Early childhood sunburns. Research has shown that sunburns early in life increase a child’s risk for skin cancer later in life. Sun exposure early in life is a major contributing factor to developing skin cancer.
  • Many freckles
  • Prior radiation therapy
  • Lowered immunity, such as in people who have had organ transplants
  • Certain rare, inherited conditions such as basal cell nevus syndrome or xeroderma pigmentosum

How Can I Help My Child Live With Skin Cancer

Melanoma leading skin cancer in children, teens

If your child has skin cancer, you can help him or her during treatment in these ways:

  • Your child may have trouble eating. A dietitian or nutritionist may be able to help.

  • Your child may be very tired. He or she will need to learn to balance rest and activity.

  • Get emotional support for your child. Counselors and support groups can help.

  • Keep all follow-up appointments.

  • Keep your child out of the sun.

After treatment, check your child’s skin every month or as often as advised.

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Slop On Spf30 Or Higher Broad

Some tips when using sunscreen with children include:

  • Apply sunscreen to any parts of skin not covered by hats or clothing about 20 minutes before going outside.
  • From around 3 years of age, encourage your child to start to apply their own sunscreen to help develop independent skills ready for preschool and school. Try applying a dot of sunscreen to each cheek, nose and chin and squiggles of sunscreen to parts of the arms and legs not covered with clothing and teach children how to apply this carefully to cover the skin.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or more frequently if swimming and sweating even if it is labelled 4-hours water-resistant.
  • Never use sunscreen as the only form of sun protection or to prolong the amount of time you or your child spends out in the sun, as it does not offer complete protection.
  • Store sunscreen under 30ºC and only use sunscreen within the expiry date.

When considering sunscreen for babies, remember:

Treatment Of Skin Cancer In Children

Most children with melanoma will have surgery to remove the cancer. For many patients, surgery is the only treatment. Others may need additional treatment, such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or biologic therapy. Fortunately, most skin cancers are very treatable when caught in their early stages.1,2

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Unusual Moles Exposure To Sunlight And Health History Can Affect The Risk Of Melanoma

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer not having risk factors doesnt mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your child’s doctor if you think your child may be at risk.

Risk factors for childhood melanoma include the following:

  • Having one of the following conditions:
  • Giant melanocytic nevi .
  • Neurocutaneous melanosis .
  • Having a fair complexion, which includes the following:
  • Fair skin that freckles and burns easily, does not tan, or tans poorly.
  • Blue or green or other light-colored eyes.
  • Red or blond hair.
  • Being White or having a fair complexion increases the risk of melanoma, but anyone can have melanoma, including people with dark skin.

  • Being exposed to natural sunlight or artificial sunlight .
  • Having several large or many small moles.
  • Having a family history or personal history of unusual moles .
  • Having a family history of melanoma.
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    How To Know If Your Moles Are Cancerous or Not: Signs and ...

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    How Can You Prevent Skin Cancer In Kids

    Taking measures to prevent skin cancer in childhood can also lower the risk later on.

    Here are some habits to implement:

    • Have kids wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day .
    • Avoid being in the sun when its the strongest .
    • Encourage kids to wear hats and protective clothing.
    • Educate teens about the dangers of tanning salons.
    • Model good sun protection behaviors yourself.


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