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What Causes Skin Cancer in Children?

Article Details
  • Written By: K.C. Bruning
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 11 August 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Skin cancer in children is believed to be caused by factors such as genetics and radiation treatments. While excessive sun exposure is the most common cause of skin cancer in adults, children are less likely to have sustained the long-term damage that would lead to the condition. For that reason, the development of skin cancer in children tends to be rare.

While the development of skin cancer in children due to the sun is rare, it is still a possibility. Excessive exposure to the sun should be avoided both for the short-term and long-term well-being of the child. Children with fair skin, excessive moles, or freckles should be particularly careful to limit sun exposure and to wear a product with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 when outside. It is also best to avoid the sun during midday when it is at its most intense.

Doctors typically recommend that children who have a family history of a deadly form of skin cancer known as melanoma, which affects the pigment-producing cells in the skin, or who have had radiation treatment be carefully observed. As skin cancer is a highly visible condition, it can often be caught early and cured. Regular skin examinations are the best way to catch abnormal moles and other skin growths that could indicate the disease.

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When performing an exam to determine the development of skin cancer in children, all areas of the body should be checked, with particular attention on the limbs, neck, face, and back. A thorough search typically includes examination of all moles and areas of pigmentation for changes in shape, color, and texture. If the exams are done regularly, familiarity with the child’s skin should help to make it easier to determine abnormalities.

There are three types of skin cancer: squamous cell, basal cell, and melanoma. Squamous and basal cell are the most common and least serious forms of skin cancer. The basal cell variety affects the lower layers of the skin, while squamous cell skin cancer is found in the middle layers. Melanoma affects the areas of the skin responsible for pigment and is the kind of skin cancer most commonly caused by the sun; it is also more likely to spread than the other types. While melanoma is extremely rare in children, it is also the most deadly kind of skin cancer, hence the need for careful observation of high-risk individuals

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