A melanoma is a malignant tumour (carcinoma) of the pigment-producing cells of the skin. Melanomas develop from existing or new moles. Melanomas of the skin account for nearly 90 percent of total skin cancer mortality. Other types of skin tumours are plano cellular carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and very rare tumours in the sebaceous and perspiratory glands.
Women have a better chance of survival. This is partly due to the location of the melanoma. Women often have a melanoma on the legs, while men often have a melanoma on the trunk where it tends to be discovered in a later stage. Melanomas of the skin can also develop on the back, arms, on the head, the neck and on body parts less frequently exposed to sunlight, such as the sole of the foot, the palm of the hand and the mucous membranes.