Skin Cancer Awareness Month and What Parents Should Know About Melanoma

Skin Cancer Awareness Month and What Parents Should Know About Melanoma

He squiggles and squirms, protesting the “goop” his mother has in hand to smear all over him, right down to the soles of his feet. And when it gets in his eyes, it burns. And yet…

Sunscreen is as important for our children as it is for us, and May has been set aside as Skin Cancer Month, with May 3rd established as Melanoma Day, to remind us all of that fact-and then some.

That’s because melanoma is the fastest growing form of cancer in the United States, and is now the sixth and seventh most common cancers in men and women, respectively.

True, skin cancers are seldom seen in youngsters, but they do still occur-and one form, melanoma, is deadly, says Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The statistics are grim:

• Melanoma accounts for up to 3% of all pediatric cancers.

• Melanoma is seven times more common in those between 10 and 20, than newborns and 10-year-olds.

• Melanoma is the most common cancer in children, followed by basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas.

• 90% of pediatric melanoma cases occur in girls, 10- to 19-years old.

• Melanoma in children and adolescents represents about 1% of all new cases in the U.S. annually.

• One blistering childhood sunburn/tan doubles the chances of developing melanoma later.

Early detection is essential, so be on guard and memorize the ABCD’s of melanoma:

A ~ stands for asymmetry, where one half of the mole doesn’t match the other half.

B ~ stands for border, where the edges are ragged or irregular.

C ~ stands for color, with the coloring varying throughout.

D ~ stands for diameter, with the mole’s diameter appearing larger than a pencil eraser.

And while genetics plays a role, so, of course, does the sun-big time. Actually, most of us get more than 50% of our lifetime ultraviolet dose by the time we turn twenty, so protect your children by…

Preventative Measures:

1. Generously applying sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 everywhere that might be exposed to the sun-even on cloudy days.

2. Reapplying sunscreen every two hours-and after perspiring or swimming.

3. Avoiding the midday sun-10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

4. Always keeping infants under six months old out of direct sunlight.

5. Having your child wear a brimmed hat and protective clothing.

6. Putting sunglasses on your child to protect his/her eyes and eyelids.

7. Remembering that sand and snow can reflect up to 85% of dangerous rays.

And don’t forget: whatever applies to children, applies to you, too, so respect the dangers of the sun’s rays and act accordingly.

Skin Cancer Awareness Month and What Parents Should Know About Melanoma

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