How a young boy’s skin tag on his head turned out to be a deadly melanoma despite him never been allowed in the sun without a hat – and the warning signs his parents say every family should know
- Hayden Price, eight, was last year diagnosed with a rare sub-type of melanoma
- The young boy was taken to the doctor last year to remove a skin tag on his head
- He was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery – has since been cleared
- Liza and Nathan Price are urging parents to be vigilant and check their kids’ skin
A young boy who has never been allowed in the sun without a hat has been diagnosed with melanoma after his parents found a seemingly innocuous skin tag on his head.
Liza and Nathan Price have always ensured their eight-year-old son Hayden wears sun protection outside – and he has never been sunburnt.
Last year, when the parents discovered a skin tag on his scalp, they took him to the doctors thinking it was just a surface blemish that could easily be removed.
‘It was being irritated every time he put on his hat or his helmet or his goggles so we went to the doctor had it removed and we thought that was the end of it,’ Ms Price told 9News.
Liza and Nathan Price took their son Hayden to the doctor last year after discovering a seemingly innocuous skin tag on the back of his head. Pictured: The Price family
‘We were very shocked when the doctor called up and said “we’re sorry we’ve found cancer”.’
Hayden was diagnosed with a rare sub-type of melanoma that is unrelated to sun exposure, which had already spread into his lymph nodes.
He was rushed into surgery in Singapore, where the Brisbane family are current based, and has since been placed on immunotherapy – a treatment that helps the immune system fight cancer.
The Prices are now urging other parents to remain vigilant and keep an eye out for changes to their children’s skin.
Mr Price said what the family went through was extremely ‘traumatic’ and no parent wants to see their child sick.
Australia and New Zealand have the highest rates of melanoma in the world, with one in 13 men and one in 22 women diagnosed before the age of 85, according to figures from the Australian Cancer Council.
While it is typically associated with sun exposure, Professor Richard Scolyer from the Melanoma Institute of Australia said that is not always the case.
The little boy was diagnosed with melanoma and rushed into hospital before being placed on immunotherapy treatment
Hayden has been cleared of cancer after recent tests but will require check ups for years to come
‘There is a dangerous misconception that melanoma is only found in old people after years of sun worshipping – it’s not true,’ he said.
Hayden recently underwent scans which indicated he is cancer-free, but he will continue to be monitored for five years.
The Prices are rallying to raise funds for the Melanoma Institute Australia’s Melanoma March that will support life-saving research, with the campaign so far reaching $180,683 of its $500,000 goal.
Around 15,000 Australians will be diagnosed with melanoma this year, or one every 30 minutes, according to the Melanoma Institute Australia.
Anyone can develop melanoma, but the risk is heightened in those who have unprotected exposure to the sun, a history of childhood tanning and sunburn, more than 10 moles above the elbow and more than 100 on the body, pale, fair or freckled skin, and a strong family history of melanoma.
The appearance of melanoma varies dramatically from person to person, but the first sign is often a new spot or a change in the shape or texture of an existing mole.
Moles may become increasingly blotchy with different shades of colour – brown, black, red, white, pink and even blue – as well as increasing in height, developing a scaly surface, becoming itchy and bleeding.
What are the warning signs of melanoma?
The first five letters of the alphabet are a guide to help you recognise the warning signs of melanoma.
A is for Asymmetry. Most melanomas are asymmetrical. If you draw a line through the middle of the lesion, the two halves don’t match, so it looks different from a round to oval and symmetrical common mole.
B is for Border. Melanoma borders tend to be uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges, while common moles tend to have smoother, more even borders.
C is for Colour. Multiple colours are a warning sign. While benign moles are usually a single shade of brown, a melanoma may have different shades of brown, tan or black. As it grows, the colours red, white or blue may also appear.
D is for Diameter or Dark. While it’s ideal to detect a melanoma when it is small, it’s a warning sign if a lesion is the size of a pencil eraser (about 6 mm, or ¼ inch in diameter) or larger. Some experts say it is also important to look for any lesion, no matter what size, that is darker than others. Rare, amelanotic melanomas are colourless.
E is for Evolving. Any change in size, shape, colour or elevation of a spot on your skin, or any new symptom in it, such as bleeding, itching or crusting, may be a warning sign of melanoma.