Moffitt Cancer Center hosts annual check-up for kids fighting melanoma

Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer and, according to Moffitt Cancer Center, it is on the rise in children.

It’s the diagnosis no parent ever wants to hear: Your child has cancer.

“She had a spot on her abdomen that we didn’t think much about. It looked like a bruise; she never had any symptoms, never had any pain,” said Josh Wolk, the father of Jazlyn Wolk, a 13-year-old skin cancer survivor.

Related: FDA delayed stronger sunscreens for a decade as melanoma diagnoses spiked

Cancer-free today, Jazlyn received an annual check-up Tuesday at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. More than a dozen pediatric skin cancer patients will receive their annual check-up from cancer doctors at Moffitt’s Cutaneous Oncology Clinic.

The check-up allows children to socialize with each other in a fun atmosphere while being seen by their doctors.

“The past few years, we have seen a steady rise in the number of children getting melanoma. Part of it is related to tanning beds, but we can’t blame all of it on that. There are aspects we just don’t know about,” Dr. Vernon Sondak of Moffitt Cancer Center said.

More research is needed to explain this staggering rise, but Dr. Sondak said to keep children out of tanning beds and protected in the sun.

“The sun has great and has wonderful aspects to it. We love living in sunny Florida but we have to be careful. We have to recognize the hazards, for ourselves and for our children,” he said.

According to Moffitt, symptoms of pediatric melanoma include:

* A mole that changes, grows or doesn’t go away
* An odd-shaped or large mole
* A pale-colored or red bump
* A mole or bump that itches or bleeds

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