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Moffitt Cancer Center researchers study childhood melanoma characteristics
Date:9/6/2012

Melanoma, newly diagnosed in more than 76,000 Americans in 2011, is the most common and dangerous form of skin cancer. Melanoma is rare in children, accounting for 1 to 4 percent of all melanoma cases and just 3 percent of pediatric cancers. Just as adult cases of melanoma are increasing, pediatric melanoma is rising at the rate of 1 to 4 percent per year.

The physicians and staff at Moffitt Cancer Center have a special interest in melanoma and related conditions occurring in childhood, and recently published results of their experience with cases of pathologically confirmed childhood melanoma. They found evidence that the disease manifests differently in children than in adults, particularly with regard to the likelihood and significance of lymph node metastases. Metastases to the lymph nodes, particularly the sentinel nodes, were found more frequently in children with melanoma than would be expected in adults with the same stage of disease, yet with aggressive surgical and medical treatment, stage-for-stage the survival in children was better than expected for adults.

The study is published in the August issue of the Annals of Surgical Oncology.

"We really don't know why young children are getting melanoma, although for older children the risk factors fair skin, sun exposure and especially sunburns are similar to those in adults. Children with melanoma have higher rates of metastases to sentinel lymph nodes than adults, but they tend to do very well with aggressive treatment," said senior study author Vernon K. Sondak, M.D., chair of the Department of Cutaneous Oncology at Moffitt and an expert in the treatment of melanoma in children and adults. "There is suggestive evidence that the biology of melanoma in children, particularly young children, may be quite different than in adults. Importantly, the diagnosis of melanoma in children can be quite difficult, and consultation with an expert pathologist is often necess
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Contact: Kim Polacek
kim.polacek@moffitt.org
813-745-7408
H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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