Malignant melanoma is a malignant tumor in the skin, colloquially called "black skin cancer". Strictly speaking, this type of carcinoma is not caused by the skin, but by the so-called melanocytic system. This is a nerve-like cell structure that controls the UV-dependent production of the skin pigment melanin.
Fair-skinned people more often affected
This is also the reason why the most common cause of malignant melanoma is a high level of sunlight / UV light summed over years. But there is also a genetic and type-dependent predisposition, with fair-skinned and red-haired people are more vulnerable than, for example, black-haired with darker skin pigmentation. Since malignant melanomas often form from existing liver spots or birthmarks, people who have a variety of such - in itself benign - skin pigment disorders are also affected above average often.
Melanomas do not just develop in the skin
If, in the melanocytic system, the degeneration of a few cells now occurs, after some time this is most often manifested as a tumor in the skin, in rarer cases also on mucous membranes or on the eye, e.g. as so-called choroidal melanoma.
Incidentally, the "black skin cancer" can also form outside pre-existing birthmarks. Pigment spots, which only develop again in adulthood and may rapidly increase in size should, if in doubt, be medically clarified.
Author: Dr. med. Monika Steiner