About Skin Cancer
Melanoma in children is a cancer of the skin which begins with the cells that give pigment (color) to skin, hair, and eyes. Most melanomas occur in the skin, although they can also occur in the eye.
Although melanoma is not the most common skin cancer, it is the most serious one. About 100,000 total cases are diagnosed each year in the United States and approximately 290 of these patients are under 20.
Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma
The warning signs of skin melanoma are often called the A B C D E’s of melanoma and include:
- A for asymmetry: The two halves of the mole do not match.
- B for border irregularity: The borders of the mole are fuzzy and irregular rather than sharp.
- C is for color variegation: In addition to brown or black, other colors are present.
- D is for diameter: The size of the mole is bigger than the size of the eraser on your pencil (0.6 cm or about ¼ of an inch).
- E is for evolving: The mole has changed in size, shape or color.
These signs may not always be seen in pediatric melanoma. Other signs include a mole that is bleeding, itches, or has developed a break in the skin. A lump near the mole or in the lymph glands close to the mole should also be looked at by a doctor.
There are no blood tests that can screen or diagnose melanoma. This is why it is important that you report any of the above warning signs to your child’s physician promptly. Survival rates are high when melanoma is diagnosed and treated early.