A 2-year-old boy, Oliver, had a huge birth mark on his back which resembled a pair of wings. The mark made him an angel!
For all parents, their children are angels. But Oliver’s skin condition made this comparison even better. Oliver was born with a huge birthmark across his back which looked as if he had feathered a pair of wings across the top of his back.
His mother said:
‘[Oliver] is one of the fortunate ones. Some children are riddled with moles and even get them on their eyelids. He actually has his on the top half of his back, so it looks like wings. There can be lots of questions because it comes up to the nape of his neck and so is visible.’
This apparent pair of wings made the boy more like an angel but can the wings be the devil in disguise?
Oliver needed a close follow-up so that the doctors can monitor any change in this skin mark. This would help them detect any lethal changes earlier in the course.
At birth, the doctors had diagnosed the boy with Giant Congenital Melanocytic Naevi (CMN). It is an oversized mole/birthmark. Giant CMN has an incidence of 1 in 20,000 live births.
These lesions may have increased hair growth and bumpy/rough surface. CMN usually tends to grow in size as the child grows. Usually, around puberty, the lesion may darken and get hairier and bumpier. In rare cases, the lesion may even disappear.
Affected children may have no symptoms. Similar was the case with Oliver. He had no particular symptoms. Some affected children reported excessive skin dryness and itching.
Is there a risk of caner?
Yes, with giant melanocytic naevi there is a risk of developing malignancy; that is why it was important to monitor Oliver’s lesion. Therefore, he visited the hospital every 3 months for a thorough check-up. He also had MRI scans to detect any tumours in the brain or spine.
The doctor’s advised Oliver’s parents to let him enjoy the life to fullest besides few necessary precautions. The most important was to protect him from the UV sunlight. Therefore, they prescribed SPF50 sunscreen.
‘In children with CMN the cancer is 10 times more aggressive and it’s untreatable once it reaches the brain.’
Therefore, it is highly imperative to monitor such lesions closely.