Only a small percentage of children need skin cancer screening, although ensuring this is available for those who do is vital.
Anyone who has had a melanoma by the time they are 21 has a 25% chance of developing another before reaching middle age, possibly during childhood. For those with a family history of melanoma, recurrence rises to 52%.
Most children see moles appear as they grow, having 10 to 20 by adulthood is common. Melanoma risk increases where the number notably exceeds this, in one study, half the paediatric melanoma patients had a substantial number of moles.
As with adults, children with a suppressed immune system can be at risk. Excessive sun exposure, or sunbathing can bring issues before adult life and the use of tanning beds, or lamps more so.
Monitoring Individual Risk
Mole mapping is a well known screening approach and quite relevant for children. You may have heard of others, such as total body dermoscopy, or imaging, they are similar and share the principle of observing change.
Whichever screening technique is chosen for an individual case, the latest digital technology allows us to instantly compare images taken over time, pinpointing new growths and changes in existing areas.
Imaging at a microscopic level and dedicated software are valuable, when matched to the knowledge of a consultant dermatologist. Not least a consultant who appreciates that skin cancers in children and adults can have different visual symptoms.
They are able to investigate any signs in greater depth, using a hand help dermoscope, or confocal microscopy, an alternative to surgical biopsy. Bringing peace of mind, or prompt, effective treatment.
Benefits Of Screening
Although childhood skin cancer is rare, where this does occur, a relatively high percentage is melanoma. A condition which can have serious consequences, yet responds well to treatment when caught in the early stages.
The same would apply to most types of skin cancer and other skin conditions which may be discovered through screening. An aspect of preventative medicine which provides immediate results and is pain free.
This builds confidence in children and helps to create lifetime habits of awareness, of staying safe. They are enhanced by the friendly advice which is always available from our paediatric dermatology staff.
If you would like to arrange a skin cancer screening appointment for a child, or simply discuss whether you should, please get in touch.