Melanoma is a serious type of skin cancer that forms in the pigment cells called melanocytes. It can occur on almost any area of the body. Luckily, when caught early most melanomas can be cured with a minor surgery.
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Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. Melanoma develops in the cells that produce melanin, which is the pigment that gives your skin its color. Melanoma can also be found in your eyes or the lining of some internal organs.
Melanoma is thought to be caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight or tanning lamps and beds. Most melanomas occur on the parts of the body that get a lot of sun exposure, such as your face, legs, arms and back.
Melanomas can occur on almost any area of the body, including areas that don’t get much sun exposure, such as the soles of your feet, palms of your hands and fingernail beds. These hidden areas tend to be the places where people with darker skin get melanomas. Melanomas are usually black or brown in color but can be skin colored, pink, red or purple.
Wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF [sun protection factor] 30 or higher) year-round, avoiding sun exposure during the middle of the day, avoiding tanning salons, and wearing sun-protective clothing and sunglasses help prevent melanoma or skin cancer.
People at risk of getting melanoma are those with fair skin, a history of sunburn, frequent exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun or tanning beds, and people who live at high elevations or close to the equator. Also, people with a family history of melanoma and those who have many moles are at higher risk.
Early detection of melanoma or skin cancer is important for survival. There are nonskin types of melanoma that are more rare, including melanoma of the mucous membrane and eye.