Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, develops in the cells (melanocytes) that produce melanin-the pigment that gives your skin its color. Melanoma can also form in your eyes and, rarely, inside your body, such as in your nose or throat.

The exact cause of all melanomas isn't clear, but exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight or tanning lamps and beds increases your risk of developing melanoma. Limiting your exposure to UV radiation can help reduce your risk of melanoma.

The risk of melanoma seems to be increasing in people under 40, especially women. Knowing the warning signs of skin cancer can help ensure that cancerous changes are detected and treated before the cancer has spread. Melanoma can be treated successfully if it is detected early.


  • A change in an existing mole
  • The development of a new pigmented or unusual-looking growth on your skin


Normally, skin cells develop in a controlled and orderly way — healthy new cells push older cells toward your skin's surface, where they die and eventually fall off. But when some cells develop DNA damage, new cells may begin to grow out of control and can eventually form a mass of cancerous cells.

Risk factors

  • Fair skin
  • A history of sunburn
  • Excessive ultraviolet (uv) light exposure
  • Living closer to the equator or at a higher elevation
  • Having many moles or unusual moles.
  • A family history of melanoma
  • Weakened immune system


  • Avoid the sun during the middle of the day
  • Wear sunscreen year-round
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Avoid tanning lamps and beds
  • Become familiar with your skin so that you'll notice changes


  • Physical exam. Your doctor will ask questions about your health history and examine your skin to look for signs that may indicate melanoma.


  • Removing a sample of tissue for testing (biopsy). To determine whether a suspicious skin lesion is melanoma, your doctor may recommend removing a sample of skin for testing. The sample is sent to a lab for examination.


  • Surgery to remove affected lymph nodes
  • Immunotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy


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Journal of Molecular Oncology Research