How to Save Your Children from the Second Leading Cause of Cancer
As parents, we would do just about anything for our children. Imagine if you could prevent your child from developing the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in 15-29 year olds? Well you can! Skin cancer is not just something adults get; children can get it too, and it can be deadly.
Melanoma is considered the deadliest form of skin cancer, because if left untreated, it can grow down into the blood vessels and lymphatic system, which can allow it to spread throughout the body. Melanoma is less common in adults, but is almost always the form of skin cancer found in children according to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Most teens and young adults with melanoma report experiencing high doses of UV radiation found in tanning beds. However, melanoma can develop when short doses of sun exposure occur, especially when they result in a blistering sunburn. Five sunburns or more doubles one’s skin cancer risk.
Melanoma in children often appears whitish, yellowish or red and may even be mistaken for a wart. Risk factors for melanoma are similar to other skin cancers and include:
- Fair skin
- Moles (having more than 25 is a red flag)
- History of frequent or severe (blistering) sunburns
- Prior melanoma
- Family history of melanoma
If your child is at a high risk for developing melanoma, it is important that they be seen by a pediatric dermatologist annually. It is also important to visually check their skin regularly and monitor any moles for change. Skin checks should always include the scalp, buttocks, backs of hands and bottoms of feet. Up to 40% of childhood melanoma is delayed due to a misdiagnosis. This is often because childhood melanoma often appears differently in kids than in adults.
While most cancers cannot be prevented, skin cancer can, and parents have the power to protect the skin of our littlest humans. Be skin smart. Apply sunscreen that has an SPF of 15 or higher to their skin daily. If you have questions about your child’s skin, schedule an appointment with one of our pediatric providers today.