Skin Cancer in Children


Melanoma in children is a cancer of the skin which begins with the cells that give pigment (color) to skin, hair, and eyes. Most melanomas occur in the skin, although they can also occur in the eye.

Although melanoma is not the most common skin cancer, it is the most serious one. About 450 people under age 20 are diagnosed with melanoma each year in the United States.

Although little is known about the causes of melanoma in children, there are some conditions that increase the chances of melanoma in children including:
  • The presence of melanoma at birth (congenital melanoma) as a result of passage of the tumor from the mother to the infant through the placenta
  • The presence of a giant mole (giant congenital nevus)
  • Diagnosis of a rare disorder called xeroderma pigmentosum
  • Presence of a rare disease called neurocutaneous melanosis
  • Werner’s syndrome
  • History of the genetic form of retinoblastoma
  • A weakened immune system after bone marrow or kidney transplant or as a result an infection such as HIV

Last updated July, 2011

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