Childhood melanoma is rare. Occurrence rates in Australia are thought to be around one in a million in the 0-5 year age group, and one in 300,000 in 6 to 15 year old group.
The only common association is with Giant congenital naevi. These huge naevi are more than 20cm in diameter and present at birth. Around 5-10% will develop into melanoma, with this usually happening within the first 10 to 12 years of life. They are more likely to change if located on the trunk , less likely to change if on the limbs. This will have been discussed with the parents, when noticed at birth.
The usual melanoma found in adults is flat, asymmetrical with irregular borders and multiple colours. These tend not to occur in children until after puberty.
The usual pre-pubertal childhood melanoma is nodular, raised not broad and usually one colour. They are often not pigmented but pale or amelanotic. When they occur, they are often located between knee and ankle. They can grow quite quickly.
Childhood melanoma is often diagnosed late, the diagnosis of melanoma not being thought of in children. Despite this the outcome is often better than when adults have similar sized tumour, as in children these tumours often metastasize late.
Pediatric melanoma is becoming more common, especially in teenage girls.
Research shows that sun-burns and tanning beds increase risk, with rates currently rising around 2% annually.
We need to be sensible as childhood melanoma is rare, yet vitamin D deficiency and lack of exercise and obesity are common.
If you have any concern, or want to learn how to monitor your childs skin, please do not wait any longer, contact us today.