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Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that occurs when melanocytes — the cells that give skin its pigment — are damaged, causing them to grow and divide out of control. Melanoma is far less common than other types of skin cancer, but it is of higher concern because it is much more likely to spread to other parts of the body if not diagnosed and treated early.

While exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from either direct sunlight or tanning beds is the leading cause of melanoma, in rare cases it can be caused by inherited genetic abnormalities. The cause is largely unknown for melanoma that develops in parts of the body that do not receive regular sun exposure, such as under the fingernails and between the toes.

A new mole, a change to an existing mole, or any other change in your skin can be a symptom of melanoma. Healthcare providers recommend paying attention to the presence of any new spot on your skin that appears to be changing in size, shape or color; or a spot on your skin that appears different from the other moles, birthmarks or freckles. Regular skin screenings are also recommended.

To learn more about melanoma, navigate to "What is Melanoma?"

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