The points made by Dr Sheraz on skin cancer management apply equally to children, in terms of cause, early detection and cure.
As with skin cancers of all types, malignant melanoma is rare in children. The age of a young person also makes a difference, with melanoma almost 10 times more likely in adolescence than childhood.
For a serious conditon, knowing that specialist diagnosis and treatment are available still matters. As with any skin cancer, early diagnosis also helps, alongside an understanding of additional factors for childhood cases.
Conditions present at birth can have an influence, such as congenital melanocytic nevus. Spitzoid melanoma is relatively prevalent in younger people, yet can appear similar to a benign skin lesion, so needs to be recognised.
Genetic factors come into play, including inherited skin conditions, or multiple, or atypical moles. If there is a family history of melanoma and a child has a number of moles, annual screening should be added to initial diagnosis.
Examining children requires a different approach, which will vary according to their age. Building confidence, along with an understanding of procedures helps and every facility available for adults should be available for children.
They will be seen by an experienced consultant dermatologist, whose knowledge is the key. The latest technology brings additional benefits, saving time, avoiding surgical biopsies and improving treatment planning.
Our London clinics offer reflectance confocal microscopy, digital dermoscopy and electrical impedance spectroscopy, advanced techniques for looking beneath the skin. They can also play a part in ongoing monitoring, as can digital mole mapping.
As mentioned earlier, there can be can be existing reasons for monitoring, or this may arise following a diagnosis. You are welcome to see more on why our clinic offers dedicated screening for children at risk of skin cancer.
Having these facilities in house is important, as is building a good relationship between young patients, families and consultants. To ensure good information flow and to appreciate how a child feels about their condition.
Diagnosis naturally includes a physical examination, along with analysis of individual and family medical history. Working with a young person to ensure they see a positive outcome is just as important, where treatment is required.
When diagnosis reveals malignant melanoma, appreciating whether this has spread within the body is vital. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or immunotherapy are options to consider where the cancer has reached other areas.
This is unusual and surgical removal of the tumour is by far the most common treatment. Carried out by specialists in children’s skin cancer surgery, who will be experienced in a range of techniques and in cosmetic preservation.
A surgical approach is more effective in children than adults, with high cure and low recurrence rates. Even so, where a child has had melanoma, the chance of another occurring is higher. A monitoring plan will be arranged by your consultant.
For any future issues, as with the present, research shows that early detection makes a difference. If your child has an issue with changing moles, or lesions, or a known melanoma, ongoing support is the key.
This is part of the service we offer for paediatric dermatology. If we can help with monitoring, or in any way, please call our friendly staff for advice.