Children and Skin Cancer

“High sun exposure in the first 10 years of life more than doubles melanoma risk,while intense, intermittent sun exposure (number of sunburns and sunbathing vacations) during each decade up to 29 years of age increases risk of melanoma by more than one-and-a-half times”*

Babies and children are at considerable risk of sunburn because their skin is very fragile. The risk of developing skin cancer later in life is greatly increased if there is sun exposure during the time from birth to 15 years of age. It is important to minimize children’s exposure to the sun especially during this time. Childhood is a crucial time to establish and maintain appropriate and long-term sunsafe behaviours such as sun avoidance, protective clothing and sunscreen use.

It is normal for children to have some moles and freckles developing before and during puberty, even in areas that are not exposed to the sun. Children rarely develop skin cancer. Full-body checks are usually not recommended until the early 20’s. Obviously, if there is a concerning lesion that is changing or growing out of proportion to the growth of the child, this needs to be checked by a doctor.

 

*Source: http://wiki.cancer.org.au/skincancerstats/Settings:_Children_and_adolescents;_Early_childhood_education_and_care,_and_schools