Fortunately, skin cancer in children is quite rare. But a small number of children can develop malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
“Children melanoma makes up about 2% of all melanoma cases,” says Dr. Daniel Kim, a dermatologist at Essentia Health in Fargo. “What we look for in children versus adults can be very different. They don’t present in the same way.”
To understand what melanoma looks like in children, he suggests first knowing how the cancer appears in adults.
“Looking at a pigmented spot, such as a birthmark, on the body, the ABCDEs of melanoma can help you determine if you should see a health care professional for assessment,” Kim says.
For adults, the ABCDEs of melanoma are:
A: Asymmetry. Normal moles are round or sometimes oval and symmetrical. Melanomas are asymmetric. B: Boarder. Normal moles have smooth edges, but melanomas have jagged or scalloped edges. C: Color. Melanomas can be dark or different colors, such as black, brown, red, blue, or white. D: Diameter. Moles should be less than 6mm, or less than the diameter of a pencil eraser.E: Evolving. Birthmarks that change shape, size or color should be checked.
For children, the ABCDs of melanoma are:
A: Amelanotic. A melanotic lesion lacks melanin, so it may not appear dark. B: Bumpy or bleeding. C: Color. Childhood melanoma can be a uniform color, such as brown or red. D: De novo. Size doesn’t matter. Diameter can be of any size.
Kim says everyone should be aware of the ABCDEs of childhood and adult melanoma.
Melanoma is a deadly cancer, but can be cured if caught early. Consult your healthcare provider if you are concerned about a mole or blemish on your skin.
Follow the Health Fusion podcast on Apple, Spotify and Google Podcasts.
For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.