Melanoma is a malignant tumor that originates in the melanocytes. These cells are responsible for generating melanin, the pigment that gives color to skin, hair and eyes. This pigment is the strongest in moles. It is due to this reason that melanomas are usually brown or black in color. Sometimes, melanomas stop producing the pigment and appear red, pink, and even skin-colored. According to the National Cancer Institute, melanoma is a serious cancer of the skin. Every year, there are about 60,000 people diagnosed with malignant melanoma.
There are reports that document the varying survival rates in children, in contrast to the melanomas in adults. Earlier, it was considered an uncommon phenomenon infecting children. Recently, the number of cases has risen from 3 per million in 1982 to almost 7 per million in 2002. On an average, about 500 kids are getting diagnosed with melanoma each year. Melanoma rarely occurs in children under 10 years of age. Among children in the age group of 10 to 14 years, the incidence is only 0.3 per 100,000. It is recorded as 1.3 per 100,000, in children between the ages of 14 and 19.
The treatment of malignant melanoma in children is done through surgery. Excisional biopsies are performed to detect suspected lesions. If the malignancy is confirmed histologically, a biopsy is performed. It includes the complete thickness of the dermis, to assist measurement of the depth of tissue invasion. Once the diagnosis is successfully done, surgical excision within adequate margins is performed.
Parents need not panic for every minor skin imperfection detected in their children. Nonetheless, melanoma is a serious form of cancer and needs immediate detection. This helps in curing the disease at the initial stage. People need to be aware of moles or birthmarks that may have characteristics of melonama.