Visit our foundation to give a gift.
View Locations Near Me
Main Campus – Hartford
Connecticut Children’s – Waterbury
Urgent Care – Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Danbury
Connecticut Children’s Surgery Center at Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Fairfield
Search All Locations
Find a doctor
Find A Doctor
Request an Appointment
Amenities and Services
Who’s Who on Care Team
Getting Ready for Surgery
What to Expect—Picture Stories
Pay a Bill
Understanding the Different Fees
Pricing Transparency and Estimates
Raytheon Technologies Family Resource Center
Family Advisory Council
Legal Advocacy: Benefits, Education, Housing
Electronic Health Records
Share Your Story
Pay a Bill
Login to MyChart
Clinical Support Services Referrals
About the Network
Join the Network
Graduate Medical Education
Continuing Medical Education
MOC/Practice Quality Improvement
Educating Practices in the Community (EPIC)
Learning & Performance
Meet our Physician Relations Team
Request Medical Records
Join our Referring Provider Advisory Board
View our Physician Callback Standards
Read & Subscribe to Medical News
Register for Email Updates
Update Your Practice Information
Refer a Patient
Find and Print Health Info
Health Information For Parents
Melanoma (mel-eh-NOE-muh) is a type of cancer that begins in a melanocyte (meh-LAN-uh-site), a cell in the top layer of skin (the epidermis). Melanocytes make melanin (MEL-eh-nun), the pigment that gives skin its color.
Melanoma also can develop in other parts of the body, like the eyes, mouth, genitals, and anal area.
Often, melanoma begins as a mole or a bump on the skin. It’s important to know if a mole has changed in size, shape, or color.
Keep this ABCDE rule in mind when checking moles:
Melanoma most commonly develops on the trunk, head, and neck for boys, and the lower legs for girls.
In adults, ultraviolet (UV) light can cause melanoma on any area of skin and can make a mole more likely to turn into melanoma. UV light comes from the sun and from the light in tanning beds. It usually takes many years to develop melanoma from sun exposure.
When a child gets melanoma, sun exposure is usually not the cause. Kids who are born with melanocytic nevi (large black spots) and specific kinds of moles have a risk of melanoma.
Sometimes melanoma begins in an area where there is no dark spot or bump.
Melanoma happens when melanocytes stop working normally. Because of a genetic change (mutation), they begin growing out of control, sticking together to form tumors, crowding out healthy cells, and damaging surrounding tissue.
Risk factors that can increase a person’s chances of melanoma include:
Though less likely, people can still get melanoma even if they’re young, have no family history of cancer, or have dark skin.
The doctor will do a biopsy, removing all or part of the lesion (the affected area of skin) and look at its cells under a microscope. A biopsy shows if the cells are cancerous. It can also show how deep they are in the skin, which can help doctors predict the risk of the melanoma spreading.
Melanoma treatment can include:
The treatment chosen depends on:
Melanoma that’s caught early, when it’s still on the surface of the skin, can be cured.
Untreated melanoma can grow downward into the skin until it reaches the blood vessels and lymphatic system. This lets it travel to distant organs, like the lungs or the brain. That’s why early detection is so important.
Most childhood types of melanoma can’t be prevented because they are due to a mutation (change in a gene).
The most important way to prevent melanoma from developing later in life is to limit kids’ and teens’ sun exposure.
Keep kids younger than 6 months out of the sun entirely, because their skin is so sensitive. If any skin must be exposed to the sun, use a small amount of sunscreen on those parts, such as the face and hands.
Kids 6 months and older should use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day.
Other ways to help prevent skin cancer include:
Not all skin cancer is melanoma, but every case of melanoma is serious. Do what you can to lower your kids’ risk and help them make smart choices about sun safety.
You can find more information online at:
By teaching kids how to enjoy fun in the sun safely, parents can reduce their risk for developing skin cancer.
With all the options out there, choosing a sunscreen for your kids can be tricky. Here’s what you need to know.
You can treat mild sunburn at home. But severe sunburn needs medical attention. Here’s what to do.
Find out what the experts have to say.
Want to avoid summer hazards so you can focus on the fun? This center offers tips for teens.
Keep the fun in summer by keeping your child safe in the sun, the water, and the great outdoors.
It’s fun to be outside on a hot, sunny day. But too much sun and heat can make you feel terrible. Find out how to stay safe in this article for kids.
Sometimes it may seem like your skin is impossible to manage, especially when you find a huge zit on your nose or a cold sore at the corner of your mouth. Here are ways to prevent and treat common skin problems.
Melanoma is different from other skin cancers because it can spread if it’s not caught early. Find out how to lower your risk of getting melanoma and how doctors treat it.
Tanning beds are no safer than the sun — and may be even more dangerous. Read this article to get the details, and to find out what is safe when it comes to getting that golden glow.
The sun can do a lot more than just give you a warm summer glow. Get the facts on sun and skin damage – and what you can do to protect yourself and still look tan.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.