The skin cancer treatment of children may need to differ from that of adults.
This is the conclusion of new research from Johns Hopkins Children's Center. Doctors found that melanomas in children were six times more likely to have spread to surrounding lymph nodes than similar-sized tumours in adults.
Current guidelines advise all lymph nodes more than one millimetre thick to be removed and doctors found that children with tumours any bigger were particularly at risk of cancer dispersal. Children under ten were also vulnerable to skin cancer spreading to other areas of the body, the study found.
"Our finding is a powerful reminder that there's much about paediatric melanoma that we don't understand," said senior investigator John Strouse, a paediatric haematologist and oncologist at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.
Studies have shown a rise in the number of skin cancer cases in children and young adults and experts believe this can be attributed to increased unprotected sun exposure and the popularity of indoor tanning.
Figures from Cancer Research UK show six per cent of 11 to 17-year-olds use sun beds.