Melanoma is a malignant tumor of melanocytes. Melanocytes are cells that produce the dark pigment, melanin, which is responsible for the color of skin. They predominantly occur in skin, but are also found in other parts of the body, including the bowel and the eye. Melanoma can originate in any part of the body that contains melanocytes.

Melanoma is much more dangerous than other skin cancers if it is not found early. It causes the majority of deaths related to skin cancer. It is more common in women than in men. In women, the most common site is the legs and melanomas in men are most common on the back. It is particularly common among Caucasians, especially northern Europeans living in sunny climates. According to a WHO report, about 48,000 melanoma related deaths occur worldwide per year.

The treatment includes surgical removal of the tumor. If melanoma is found early, while it is still small and thin, and if it is completely removed, then the chance of cure is high. The likelihood of the melanoma coming back or spreading depends on how deeply it has gone into the layers of the skin. For melanomas that come back or spread, treatments include chemo- and immunotherapy, or radiation therapy.

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