TAMPA, Fla. – Although it accounts for only 3 percent of all pediatric cancers, melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is on the rise in children, adolescents and young adults. Moffitt Cancer Center put together a team of surgeons, pathologists and pediatric and adult oncologists to tackle the very tough and often unique problems that children and adolescents with melanoma face. Even after successful surgery and other treatments, these patients may face a lifetime of follow-up visits to check for reoccurrence of their cancer or the development of new skin cancers.
Each summer, Moffitt’s Cutaneous Oncology Clinic conducts an annual checkup clinic. Each year, approximately 20 children battling melanoma and related skin tumors attend. The annual checkup gives the patients a chance to socialize with one another and enjoy balloon animals, arts and crafts and sweet treats, in addition to being seen by a doctor. This year, the clinic will take place on the afternoon of Tuesday, Aug. 2, and for the first time is being held at the new Moffitt McKinley Outpatient Center.
Like adult melanoma, the development of most cases of pediatric melanoma is likely due to a combination of genetic predisposition and ultraviolet exposure along with other unknown triggers. Tanning beds have been implicated as a major cause of the rise in incidence of melanoma in children and young adults. Children with fair skin, light hair and freckles tend to have a higher risk, but a surprisingly high number of children have darker skin and wouldn’t typically have been thought of as “high risk” for skin cancer development. Symptoms of pediatric melanoma include:
- A mole that changes, grows or doesn’t go away
- An odd-shaped or large mole
- A pale-colored or red bump
- A mole or bump that itches or bleeds
Diagnosing melanoma in children can be difficult, and it is usually necessary to consult with an expert pathologist to make sure that it is in fact melanoma. At Moffitt, a variety of additional tests and procedures are often conducted to establish the diagnosis with the highest possible degree of certainty, and treat it the most effectively. Fortunately, the prognosis for most children with melanoma is quite favorable, and progress made in treating adult melanoma is helping improve outcomes for children, as well. That means the kids we’re seeing Aug. 2 should be coming back for visits for a lot of years to come!
WHAT: Pediatric melanoma patients attend annual checkup at Moffitt’s Cutaneous Clinic
WHERE: Moffitt McKinley Outpatient Center, 10920 N.McKinley Drive, Tampa, FL 33612
WHEN: 1 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2
INTERVIEWS: Speak with a Moffitt physician about pediatric melanoma. Pediatric patients and their caregivers are also available to share their experience with skin cancer.
About Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. The Tampa-based facility is one of only 47 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s excellence in research, clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt is the No. 6 cancer hospital in the nation and has been listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of the “Best Hospitals” for cancer care since 1999. Moffitt devotes more than 2 million square feet to research and patient care. Moffitt’s expert nursing staff is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with Magnet® status, its highest distinction. With more than 5,200 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $2.1 billion. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488), visit MOFFITT.org, and follow the momentum on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.