The number of Caucasian children 18 and under (as young as 2-years-old) who develop Melanoma is on the rise. From 1973-2009 more than 1200 children were diagnosed with Melanoma. Diagnoses like these have shown an increase of 2% a year. Melanoma is an the most aggressive form of skin cancer. If caught early there is a good chance of survival, but if left to spread it can be deadly.
What could cause childhood Melanoma?
- Sun sensitivity disorders
- Mom-to-infant transmission
- Tanning bed use (teens 14-18 years old)
Sometimes children can develop Melanoma or skin cancer because they exhibit some of the high risk factors; a large number of moles, family history, fair-skinned, and blue eyed. As with most illnesses sometimes there is no reason at all. No matter the cause, early detection is important. Children (as well as adults) should have a yearly Dermatologist appointment. People with a family history of Melanoma and atypical moles should be examined every 3 to 6 months. Children in these families should have their first exam by the age of 10.
Treat a Dermatologist appointment like a yearly Pediatrician wellness check-up.
Steps to a successful Dermatologist appointment:
- Talk with your child about who a Dermatologist is; let them know that a Dermatologist is a doctor who knows a lot about skin and how to keep our skin healthy.
- If you don’t have a Dermatologist the American Academy of Dermatology provides a quick and easy Derm Finder.
- When contacting your doctor to arrange a total body skin examination, you should request an appropriate amount of time for the appointment with the scheduler.
- At the time of arrival, when placed in the room, and when first greeting the doctor, you should make your desire for a total body skin examination known, including a request for a gown if one is not provided.
- During a skin cancer checkup or “screening,” your doctor will probably discuss medical history and inspect your child’s skin from head to toe-even areas that don’t get any sun. If your doctor performs only a waist-up exam, inform him/her that you would like a complete skin exam.
- Your doctor will record the location, size, and color of any moles.
- If a mole looks unusual, he/she may arrange for a biopsy.
Through out this whole process you (as a parent) have the option to be present during the appointment, ask questions and to voice your concern.
Studies have shown that doctor’s instructions may help young people understand that sun exposure and tanning harms the skin. The message of sun safe habits should begin early and the message should be frequent.
Source: Aim at Melanoma