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Melanoma in Children: Risks, Causes, Prevention

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer, and the fifth most common cancer in men and seventh most common cancer in women. In the United States, the rate of melanoma is rising more rapidly than any other potentially preventable cancer.

Recently, new findings that were published in the journal of Pediatrics reveals that melanoma is on the rise among children and adolescents. The biggest jump was among adolescents between the ages of 15 to 19, however the reason for the sudden increase is currently unclear. It’s important to protect your children with sunscreen that will actually work, such as broad spectrum sunscreen with at least an SPF protection of 30. It should be re-applied every 2 hours and especially after getting out of the water, and make sure it protects against both ultraviolet A and B rays; the most harmful rays emitted by the sun. It is also important to keep them clothed in sun-safe attire such as wide brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts and pants if they are to be exposed in the sun for long periods of time. Unfortunately, protecting your children may not be enough to protect them from melanoma. Tanning behaviors have changed in recent years. More adolescence, mostly females, are lying in indoor tanning beds to achieve a quick bronze look without protection.

Melanoma basically looks the same as melanoma in adults, in that they have irregular borders, and are asymmetrical, which means if you cut them in half you wouldn’t have equal sides. They also tend to be inconsistent in color and have a diameter that is greater than 6 millimeters (about one-fifth of an inch). Not all moles, brown spots and growths are harmful, but it is important to check in with a dermatologist at the first signs of a new growth, considering that early detection is key to treatment success.

About author - Dr. Cameron Rokhsar

Dr. Cameron Rokhsar

Dr. Cameron Rokhsar, MD, FAAD, FAACS, is the founder and medical director of the New York Cosmetic, Skin, & Laser Surgery Center. Dr. Rokhsar is a graduate of Harvard College and NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Rokhsar is double board certified in dermatology and micrographic dermatologic surgery, being one of the few select dermatologists in the country who is also fellowship trained in laser surgery. A researcher and innovator, Dr. Rokhsar is the creator of the non-surgical nose job and has been instrumental in the research and development of laser systems such as the Fraxel, CO2, Mirady, Vbeam, Themitight, and Ulthera devices. An Associate Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, Dr. Rokhsar actively teaches the cosmetic dermatology clinic to the resident at Mount Sinai. An expert injector of fillers, and a trainer for many companies, patients fly in from around the world to see Dr. Rokhsar in his Garden City and Manhattan offices in New York.

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