Melanoma In Children

  • 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.

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