Melanoma can - and does - occur in every age group. It is uncommon, but children do get skin cancer. Unfortunately, warning signs are missed because most people think that it's not possible for children to develop the disease. Pediatric melanoma is rare (making up only 2 percent of all melanomas). It affects only seven in 1 million children and adolescents, according to 2002 statistics from the National Cancer Institute. But that number has increased steadily since 1982, when the number was three per million children. Proper diagnosis is frequently overlooked because children often have a few little brown or reddish brown spots, called Spitz nevi. They look completely normal and are usually benign moles or birthmarks, but sometimes they can become early melanomas. Although there is little research currently available, it is believed that genetic predisposition can be a strong factor in these cases. The way a person's DNA deck of cards is shuffled can make him or her much more prone to melanoma mutations and tumor genesis due to sun exposure. In many cases of pediatric melanoma, the patients did not have traditional high-risk factors (fair skin and light eyes or a family history of the disease). One thing is sure: they all had moles that changed or appeared atypical. This is something a parent should watch for and an important reason to see a dermatologist for an annual checkup - even as a child.
Find out more about this book:Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin