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Published On: Tue, May 22nd, 2018

St Jude’s Dr Alberto Pappo warns parents to guard child against extreme exposure to the sun

With the official start of summer this Memorial Day weekend, pediatric skin cancer specialists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital are urging parents to take the necessary steps to protect their children when they are out in the sun this holiday weekend, including poolside or at the beach.

photo Danielle Catrett White

“During the Memorial Day weekend, parents should take simple steps to protect their children from extreme sun exposure, including avoiding going out when sun rays are strong and keeping infants out of the sun entirely,” said Alberto Pappo, M.D., director of the Solid Tumor Division at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “Don’t assume children cannot get skin cancer because of their age. Unlike other cancers, the conventional melanoma that we see mostly in adolescents behaves the same as it does in adults.”

Research shows that sun damage contributes to melanoma in children and adolescents as well as adults. The research underscores the need for precautionary measures to avoid extreme sun exposure for children, including the implementation of routine prevention measures.

“While rare, melanoma is the most common type of skin cancer in younger patients and affects mostly teenagers. Children are not immune from extreme sun damage and parents should start sun protection early and make it a habit for life,” Pappo said.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is a leader in pediatric melanoma research and treatment. St. Jude provides treatment and second opinions for patients with pediatric melanoma around the country and beyond. Each year, the St. Jude Pediatric and Adolescent Melanoma Referral Clinic brings patients and families to St. Jude for two days of expert consultation, as well as medical examinations by leading specialists, educational seminars and an introduction to melanoma-related resources.

Melanoma with Color Differences
Image/National Cancer Institute

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer because it often spreads to other parts of the body. Melanoma gets its name from melanocytes—skin cells that produce a pigment called melanin, which gives skin its color.

 

  • About 76,700 new cases of melanoma in children and adults are diagnosed in the United States each year.
  • About 7 percent of cancers in children 15 to 19 years of age are melanomas. Melanoma is most common in people of Caucasian descent, occurring five times more often than in Hispanics and 20 times more often than in African Americans.
  • Childhood melanoma may not fit into the same routine diagnosis symptoms as adults. Instead, parents should look for the following:
    • A mole that changes, grows or doesn’t go away
    • An odd-shaped or large mole
    • A pale-colored or red bump
    • A mole or bump that itches or bleeds

 

For more information on melanoma,

visit the St. Jude Melanoma Clinic’s fact sheet

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