Melanoma is a type of cancer that begins in the melanocytes, or cells that make the pigment melanin. It can develop from a mole and become skin cancer. Other parts of the body, such as the eye or the GI tract also contain melanocytes, and melanoma rarely starts in these areas.
While melanoma is less common than other skin cancers, with about 76,000 new cases diagnosed each year melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer and can occur on any skin surface. The chance of developing it increases with age, but this disease affects people of all ages.
Updated March 24, 2015