Every parent must read: Boy’s shock melanoma diagnosis
A pesky skin tag on the back of Hayden Price's head turned into the most shocking diagnosis.
At just seven years of age, the schoolboy had a melanoma which had spread to his lymph nodes.
Hayden had surgery to remove the melanoma last July just one day after his 8th birthday and is now having regular sessions of immunotherapy in a bid to stave off the killer disease.
"We just didn't think that children as young as Hayden could get melanoma. He just had a little tag on his scalp that was irritated from wearing his swimming cap," his mum Liza Price, from Auchenflower in Brisbane, said.
"It just never crossed our minds that a cancer diagnosis was even possible. Hayden has never been sunburnt in his entire life. Because he is a red head I have always been over the top protective when it comes to the sun.
"As it turns out Hayden has a sub type melanoma that is not sun related."
The latest data from Cancer Council Queensland shows that there were only three children under the age of 10 diagnosed with melanoma in the state in the five years between 2013 and 2017. There were only five aged between 10 and 14 years.
Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) Co-Medical Director, Professor Richard Scolyer, who is the world's leading melanoma pathologist, confirmed the difficult diagnosis. He said while melanoma is rare in young children it is a dangerous misconception that it is just an older person's disease that occurs after decades of sun exposure.
"Melanoma is in fact the most common cancer in 15 to 39 year old Australians," he said.
As Hayden's melanoma already had spread to his lymph nodes, his case was referred to MIA Co-Medical Director and medical oncologist, Professor Georgina Long.
Professor Long presented Hayden's case at MIA's weekly multidisciplinary team meeting where a cohort of leading clinicians brainstorm and discuss complex cases.
"Hayden was immediately started on immunotherapy, a breakthrough treatment which harnesses the body's own immune system to fight the cancer cells. Had Hayden been born less than a decade earlier, this treatment would not have been available," Prof Long said.
The family are speaking out to warn parents to be on the alert.
"It was a difficult decision to go public with our story as we are in the middle of it, however we wanted to share this important message. If you have doubts about changes in your child's skin, including moles, bumps or lesions, please have them checked by a specialist, even in young kids," Hayden's dad Nathan said.
The family remain positive that the treatment will cure Hayden's cancer.
"He is responding well and we have great hopes all will be okay," mum said.
Originally published as Every parent must read: Brisbane boy's shock melanoma diagnosis