Facebook Pixel

Protecting Children and Teens From Sun Helps Prevent Melanoma

By HERWriter Blogger
Rate This
Protecting Children and Teens From Sun May Prevent Melanoma MonkeyBusiness Images/PhotoSpin

Protecting children from the sun can help them to avoid melanoma, a type of skin cancer, researchers from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Washington University have found.

Most people know that sun damage can cause melanoma in adults, but this was the first study to find genetic evidence that children are affected by the sun's ultraviolet rays the same way as adults, and thereby need to be protected from the sun in the same way.

This small study was featured in the March, 2015, issue of The Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Researchers found that melanoma in children — the most common skin cancer diagnosed in children — has the same genetic alterations as it does when it is found in adults, unlike most cancers.

This is particularly groundbreaking research because it opens the door for medical professionals to start to use adult therapies to combat melanoma in children. If these therapies work for adults with melanoma, then they should potentially work for children, too.

This new information reinforces the need for parents and caregivers to protect children and adolescents from the sun, to prevent melanoma, and to continue that protection throughout their lives.

Using adequate sunscreen and limiting sun exposure can help to lower their chances of being diagnosed with melanoma.

According to the National Cancer Institute, while melanoma is still rare in children, its prevalence has increased between 1973 and 2009, primarily in teenagers between 15 and 19 years old.

The majority of current patients with pediatric melanoma are in that age group. In fact, patients with melanoma comprise 8 percent of all pediatric cancer patients between 15 and 19 years old.

NCI estimates that 425 U.S. children under the age of 19 are diagnosed with melanoma each year. In 75 percent of those patients, the cancer will not spread and 90 percent of them will survive five years after the diagnosis of their disease.

This study is part of the St. Jude—Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project which was created in 2010 to help children diagnosed with some of the least understood and most aggressive pediatric cancers.

In the first three years after the project began, researchers were able to decode both the cancer and normal genomes of 700 pediatric cancer patients. By researching these genomes which are found in the cellular DNA in our bodies, researchers are extending both the overall knowledge, as well as the treatment methods for those afflicted with childhood cancer.


Stjude.org. Web. 4 March 2015. "Sun damage causes genetic changes that predispose children and adolescents to melanoma."

Cancer.gov. 6 April 2015. "Unusual cancers of childhood treatments."

Reviewed April 16, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


Get Email Updates

Related Checklists

Melanoma Guide


Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!