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Conditions InDepth: Melanoma

Melanoma is skin cancer of the melanocytes, the cells that produce skin color and give moles their dark color.

Moles are collections of melanocytes. Normally, moles are benign. However, it is possible for a mole to develop into melanoma. A new mole may also be an early sign of melanoma. The 3 major types of skin cancer are basal cell, squamous cell, and melanoma. Basal cell and squamous cell are the 2 most common. Melanomas account for less than 5% of all skin cancer cases, but they are more dangerous because they are far more likely to spread to other parts of the body.

Melanoma
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Melanoma occurs when melanocytes divide without control or order. The disease typically starts in the skin, but it also may arise in other areas where melanocytes are found, such as in the eyes, digestive system, nail beds, or lymph nodes.

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. Artificial radiation from sun lamps and tanning booths can also cause skin cancer. Exposure to sun is the primary cause of melanoma, but some people have a hereditary predisposition to develop these malignancies.

What are the risk factors for melanoma?What are the symptoms of melanoma?How is melanoma diagnosed?What are the treatments for melanoma?Are there screening tests for melanoma?How can I reduce my risk of melanoma?What questions should I ask my doctor?What is it like to live with melanoma?Where can I get more information about melanoma?

Revision Information

  • Melanoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 3, 2013. Accessed April 8, 2013.

  • Melanoma skin cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003120-pdf.pdf. Updated January 17, 2013. Accessed April 8, 2013.

  • What is melanoma? Melanoma Research Foundation website. Available at: http://www.melanoma.org/understand-melanoma/what-is-melanoma. Accessed April 8, 2013.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. Parkridge Health System does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.