• Skin cancer warning signs differ between children, adults, doctor says

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    PITTSBURGH - Cate Sauer is like any other 10-year-old.

    She likes to play with her sisters and with the family’s three dogs at their Oakmont home, but what isn’t typical is the little red dot that Cate found under her chin last summer.

    "It was kind of weird. It was like a little bump and it wasn't like, I don't think it was supposed to be there so I just told my mom," she said. 

    That little red dot was melanoma, a type of skin cancer.


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    But Channel 11 learned that the warning signs in children can be different than those in adults. 

    "Melanomas in kids can much more commonly be red, or what we call amelanotic, where they're not even brown or pigmented. They can be very smooth and dome-shaped," said Dr. Robin Gehris of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. 

    Gehris said that because of that, sometimes only one of the ABCDEs of detecting skin cancer -  asymmetry, border, color, diameter and evolving - can be recognized.

    "Really, the only consistent criterion that was met in the pediatric melanomas was the ‘E,’ that the evolving.  That the lesions in kids were either new or changing lesions," she said

    Gehris said it is important for both family doctors and parents to know that because melanoma affects 500 children every year. 

    She also said many of the pediatric cases that she has seen, including Cate’s, are related to genetics and not excessive sun exposure. 

    Still, she stressed the importance of good sun protection, limiting sun exposure - especially when UV rays are the strongest - and avoiding tanning beds. 

    Cate continues to receive treatment for melanoma, and she and her mother agree that everyone has to be proactive when it comes to their family’s health. 

    "You have to constantly check your children's skin. I mean, I am always looking at all three of my daughters, making sure that I don't notice even the slightest difference in their skin," said Cate’s mother, Amanda. 

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