Girl applying sunscreen to her nose

Can children get skin cancer?

Every day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, over 9,000 individuals are diagnosed with skin cancer. Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers prevalent in the United States. While we often hear of adults being diagnosed later in life due to exposure over the years, we rarely hear about skin cancer developing in children. Can children get skin cancer?

What is skin cancer?

The Florida Westcoast Skin and Cancer Center of Tampa, Florida describes skin cancer as a malignant tumor. It grows in the skin cells and is caused by extensive sunlight exposure. There are many types of skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Patients who have had many blistering sunburns as a child has a significantly higher risk of developing skin cancer later on in life when compared to those who have not. By limiting sunlight and sunburn exposure in childhood and the adolescent years, patients can prevent and reduce their risk of skin cancer as an adult.

Pediatric skin cancer

What about children? Can children be diagnosed with skin cancer? While a skin cancer diagnosis in children is rare, it can happen. According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, melanoma diagnosis in children is increasing by 2% each year, and accounts for almost 3% of all pediatric cancers. This growth in pediatric skin cancer is concerning, and needs to be addressed by educating parents on how to protect their children’s skin.

Skin protection recommendations

Below are a few tips for protecting your child’s skin against skin cancer:

  • Wear protective clothing
  • Utilize sunblock every day
  • Reapply sunblock as needed with continued sun exposure
  • Avoid outside activities between 10am and 4pm when UV exposure is at its highest
  • Visit the dermatologist with any new concerns
  • Seek skin cancer screenings annually with a trained dermatologist

Discuss skin protection with the team at Florida Westcoast Skin and Cancer Center

Book an appointment to educate yourself regarding skin protection, or schedule a skin cancer screening to monitor for changes that may indicate a concern. Our dermatological team is located in Tampa, Florida and can be reached at (813) 877-4811.

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