Conditions + Treatments

Skin Cancer (Melanoma) in Children

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Melanoma is a highly malignant skin cancer that begins in melanocytes (cells that make the pigment melanin, which gives our skin its color) of normal skin or moles and spreads rapidly and widely. It primarily occurs in adults, but about 300 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with melanoma each year. While melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer in adults, skin cancer in children is almost always melanoma. Among children, melanoma often looks different and may grow faster than it does in adults.

Pediatric melanoma has increased on average 2% per year since 1973, although its incidence seems to have decreased over the last few years. The biggest increase in recent decades has been in girls ages 15-19, possibly because girls are more likely than boys to sunbathe and use tanning beds.

Pediatric Melanoma Treatment at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's

Children with melanoma are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's through our Rare Tumors Program. Our treatment teams have expertise in treating many rare forms of cancer, and many of our specialists are also active researchers, providing your child access to the most advanced treatments available.

Learn More
Find in-depth information on melanoma in children on the Dana-Farber/Boston Children's website, including answers to:

  • What are the melanoma symptoms and risk factors in children?
  • How is childhood melanoma diagnosed?
  • What is the treatment for melanoma in children?
  • What is the latest research on pediatric melanoma?
  • What is the long-term outlook for children with melanoma?
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