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  1. Jessie Villanueva,
  2. Meenhard Herlyn

Published Online: 15 MAR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0001894.pub2



How to Cite

Villanueva, J. and Herlyn, M. 2009. Melanoma. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2009


Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that originates from specialized cells in the skin called melanocytes. Environmental, biochemical, molecular and genetic factors are all involved in the genesis of melanoma. Although the incidence of melanoma continues to rise worldwide, no current effective treatment is available for metastatic disease. Thus, development of new and efficacious strategies to treat this aggressive disease is urgently needed. Understanding the molecular and cellular basis of melanoma initiation, progression and metastasis is critical to identify new targets for novel therapeutic approaches that would improve survival and offer hope to patients coping with this aggressive neoplasm.

Key Concepts:

  • Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer that originates from pigment-producing cells called melanocytes.

  • The incidence of melanoma continues to rise worldwide, constituting a serious public health problem.

  • Major risk factors for melanoma include exposure to UV radiation, fair skin, large number of dysplastic nevi and a family history of melanoma.

  • Multiple factors, including genetic, molecular and environmental contribute to the development of melanoma.

  • Mutations in genes critical for proliferation (e.g. BRAF) and survival (e.g. AKT) contribute to melanomagenesis.

  • Metastatic melanoma is highly resistant to current therapies.

  • Targeting signalling pathways that are essential for tumour progression and maintenance, such as BRAF/MAPK and PI3K/AKT, offer a rational approach for the development of effective antimelanoma therapies


  • melanoma;
  • skin cancer;
  • signal transduction;
  • progression;
  • targeted therapy