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Pediatric melanoma cases on the rise

Rochester, N.Y.— The cases are rare, but they are increasing.

According a new report in the journal Pediatrics, the number of melanoma cases in children has been increasing each year by 2 percent since 1974.

Melanoma is a form of skin cancer and while it makes up only 5 percent of all skin cancer cases, it is a majority of skin cancer deaths.

According to URMC dermatologist, Dr. Sherrif Ibrahim, the biggest increase in pediatric melanoma patients is among girls ages 15 to 19 years old.

It used to be that melanoma was seen much later in a person’s life, but Dr. Ibrahim said melanoma diagnoses in younger patients means people are being exposed the sun more often and earlier in life.

The report also found that melanoma in young patients was harder to diagnose.

“In adults, you think of melanoma as this ugly black thing that gets bigger and bigger,” said URMC pediatrician Dr. David Korones. “In children, it can be more subtle and more variable how it shows up.”

Dr. Korones stressed that melanoma in children is not very common and parents should not be fearful of letting their children play in the sun.

He recommends being watchful for abnormal spots or moles on the skin and to use sunscreen on kids when they are out in the sun.

Dr. Sherrif notes that children with juvenile melanoma show signs of genetic predisposition to skin cancer and exposure to sun may not be the fully be the cause.

He also says cases of melanoma are increasing across the board, among all age groups.

 
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