Skin Cancer in Children on the Rise – How Can We Protect Our Children
Fighting skin cancer has taken on a greater priority since the medical community has noticed the rise of melanoma in children. This increase is small but significant.
Although pediatric melanoma is still not very common as shown by the statistics from the National Cancer Institute. They show that while only 7 per million, or about 500, cases where reported in 2002 this was a rise from 3 per million in 1982. This increase, although slight, is causing concern in the medical community.
What is most disturbing to both parents and doctors is that the type of cancer being diagnosed in children is malignant melanoma. This is the most dangerous and deadly form of skin cancer. However, if melanoma is detected early, it can be treated.
In adults scientists have linked the development of skin cancer to damage done by the ultraviolet rays of the sun. The damage done by ultraviolet radiation is accumulative, increasing the risk of cancer later in life. Children have not usually been exposed to the same degree as adults but they are still being affected.
Scientists are not sure why skin cancer develops in children and feel there may be other factors at work than just skin damage due to the sun.
On possible suggestion is that genetics could be a factor. We know that people with fair skin are more at risk for developing skin cancer than people of other nations.
Moles have proven to play a part in the development of skin cancer, so children whose body is covered with moles maybe at greater risk.
Another factor is having a history of sunburns. Even though children have not spent as many years in the sun as their parents or other adults have, their skin is tender and more easily sun burnt.
Parents need to take seriously the task of teaching their young ones how to protect themselves from sun damage. Gone are the days when a mother would tell their children to run out and play in the sun.
Children need to learn to avoid the sun by playing in the shade where possible. They need to stay out of the sun during the peak hours of the day when the sun is the strongest.
It may be necessary to remind your children the proper use of sunscreens. It is not enough to use it just when they first go outside but sunscreens must be re-applied on a regular basis.
Children need to remember to wear a hat and protective clothing when they are outside. Tank tops and other sleeveless shirts are cooler in hot weather but they provide little protection from the sun.
Our little ones are too young to know what is needed so we must insure that they too are safe. It becomes the responsibility of the adult to keep infants and toddlers protected.
Pediatric melanoma is a frightening condition. Even though the number of cases is small, no one wants to see their children develop skin cancer.
Although skin cancer in children is rare, parents should be alert and watch for any signs of pediatric melanoma developing in their children..