A recent study indicates that children ARE at risk for the deadly skin cancer melanoma. Furthermore, the incidence of melanoma in children is on the rise. Currently, melanoma accounts for up to 3% of all pediatric cancers and 6% of cancer cases in teens age 15 – 19 years old. Unfortunately, the incidence is on the rise with statistics showing an increase in pediatric melanoma of 2% per year from the years from 1973- 2009.
In adults, the ABCDE criterion (asymmetry, border, color, diameter and evolving) help distinguish cancerous from benign moles. In contrast, new research in The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD) indicates that melanoma in children tends to be non-pigmented, bleeding, and rapidly growing.
Given these ambiguous criterion, the diagnosis of melanoma in children is often delayed. In the JAAD study, 86% of children less than 10 years old had a greater than 6 month delay in the diagnosis of melanoma. This delay is theorized to be due to atypical presentation of the pediatric melanoma.
In short, if your child has a suspicious skin lesion that you are concerned about, please alert your pediatrician or dermatologist. Dr. Tareen and her Roseville, Minnesota dermatology colleagues are happy to evaluate and treat children. Melanoma is treatable if caught early and devastating if caught late!