A melanoma starts from melanocytes. Melanocytes are the cells in the skin that produce melanin, which colours or pigments the skin.
Melanomas can spread very quickly if not treated and can develop anywhere on the body.
What causes melanoma?
Exposure to UV light (from the sun or solariums) can cause melanoma. Exposure of the skin causes the cells to change their behaviour.
People who have fair skin, spend a lot of time in the sun or have a family history are more at risk of developing melanoma.
What are the symptoms?
Melanomas are often first noticed when an exiting mole or freckle changes in its colour, shape or size. Melanomas can look different from one to another.
Changes often occur over a couple of weeks rather than months and years so prompt surgical removal is required.