The incidence of melanoma, one of the most harmful forms of skin cancer is increasing among children and teenagers. The rate of melanoma has doubled during the past 20 years.
Melanoma represents only about 5% of all skin cancers in the United States, but it accounts for about 75 % of all skin cancer deaths.
If detected early melanomas have a high cure rate, however in an advanced stage it can spread to other organs of the body.
The epidemiological evidence suggesting UV exposure as a primary cause of melanoma is further supported by molecular evidence that damage caused by UV radiation, particularly damage to our DNA, plays a critical role in the development of melanoma.
Childhood is the most important time for developing moles, which is an important risk factor for melanoma.
Studies support exposure to UV radiation during childhood and adolescence play a role in the future development of melanoma.
Persons with a history of >1 blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence are two times as likely to develop melanoma than those who did not have such exposures.
In general the incidence rates of melanoma among Caucasians are at least 16 times greater than in African Americans and 10 times greater than Hispanics.
Skin Cancer In Children
Skin cancers are mainly divided into melanoma, and non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC), the latter includes basal cell carcinomas (BCC) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCC).
For a child born in the new millennium, the lifetime risk for developing a NMSC is estimated to be 28% to 33% for BCC and 7% to 11% for SCC.
It is noted that most people receive 50-80% of their lifetime exposure to the sun by 18 years of age.
Exposure to UV radiation during childhood and adolescence plays a role in the future development of skin cancer.Sunburns have a higher association with skin cancers.
Painful sunburns are the most important behavioral risk factor for the development of NMSC and melanoma.
Chronic exposure to ultraviolet radiation may be the most important risk factor for the development of actinic keratoses, precursors of squamous cell carcinomas.
Migration studies show people born in areas with excessive solar radiation have three times the risk to develop skin cancer than those who move to these areas in adulthood.
Non-melanoma skin cancers rarely metastasize, thus they have a high cure rate.
Regular skin check-ups are recommended for children with a family or personal history of skin cancer.