What are Melanocytes?

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer as, by the time it is usually detected, it has often already spread through other areas of the body and is no longer localised to the skin. The skin has two main layers, the upper layer called the epidermis and the inner layer called the dermis. In the epidermis are the cells called melanocytes that are responsible for production of melanin, the skin’s source of pigment. Vitiligo is a skin condition where the dysfunction or destruction of melanocytes leaves the skin without colour but other problems can also occur with these pigment-producing cells.

Are Moles Cancerous?


Not all moles are cancerous like these but regular skin checks can detect skin cancer early.

Melanocytes sometimes congregate and form moles (nevi), a common skin feature but usually harmless and not cancerous. Moles can, however, be wrongly identified and any newly observed moles or changes in the size, texture, colour, or shape of moles warrants further investigation. These dysplastic nevi are a risk factor for melanoma as are multiple moles on a person (usually more than fifty). Despite stories about the dangers of cutting a mole there is no clear evidence that the risk of skin cancer is increased when a mole is cut, although unexplained bleeding of a mole definitely requires urgent medical evaluation.

Read more about malignant melanomacauses, diagnosis, and skin cancer treatment.

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