Taking Care of Your Health

Pediatric Skin Cancer Patients Participate in Annual Check-Up Day

August 03, 2016

pediatric-melanoma2.jpg Dr. Vernon Sondak, chair of the Cutaneous Oncology program, speaks with a young patient.

Young patientDid you know melanoma is increasing in children, teens and young adults?

Pediatric patients took part in Moffitt’s annual “check-up day” for children battling melanoma and skin-related cancers on Tuesday, Aug. 2, at the cutaneous clinic at McKinley Outpatient Center. In addition to their doctor’s appointment, the children socialized with each other and were treated to balloon animals and cupcakes.

Each year, approximately 20 children battling melanoma and related skin tumors attend this clinic. 

Like adult melanoma cases, 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. The use of tanning beds are also 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. Fortunately, most children with melanoma have favorable outcomes. Ongoing progress made in treating adult melanoma is helping improve outcomes for children as well.