What is melanoma?

Updated: Jun 28, 2021
  • Author: Jonathan B Heistein, MD; Chief Editor: Gregory Gary Caputy, MD, PhD, FICS  more...
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Melanoma is a tumor that develops as a result of the malignant transformation of melanocytes. These cells are derived from the neural crest. Melanomas usually occur on the skin but can arise in other locations where neural crest cells migrate, such as in the gastrointestinal tract or brain. Melanoma predominantly affects adults, with a peak incidence in the fourth decade, and has no sex prevalence. A patient's risk of developing a second primary melanoma after diagnosis of the first one is 3-5%.

Definition of problem

Melanoma poses an increasingly difficult problem as more people are affected. The incidence is estimated to be rising by almost 6% per year. Recognition of this disease as an entity is crucial so that people may seek medical attention while the tumor is still in its early stages, prior to metastasis. Efforts should be directed toward public awareness campaigns.

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