Get the Facts


Every hour one American dies from melanoma.

Melanoma is usually, but not always, a cancer of the skin. It begins in melanocytes – the cells that produce the pigment melanin that colors the skin, hair and eyes. Melanocytes also form moles, where melanoma often develops. Having moles can be a risk factor for melanoma, but it’s important to remember that most moles do not become melanoma. 

Link: Melanoma Fact Sheet

There are three general categories of melanoma:

Cutaneous Melanoma is melanoma of the skin. Since most pigment cells are found in the skin, cutaneous melanoma is the most common type of melanoma. Cutaneous melanoma can be described in four main ways:

Superficial Spreading Melanoma 

Nodular Melanoma 

Acral Lentiginous Melanoma 

Lentigo Maligna Melanoma

Desmoplastic Melanoma 

Mucosal Melanoma can occur in any mucous membrane of the body, including the nasal passages, the throat, the vagina, the anus, or in the mouth

Ocular Melanoma, also known as uveal melanoma or choroidal melanoma, is a rare form of melanoma that occurs in the eye. Learn more about CURE OM, the MRF’s initiative focused on ocular melanoma

Unlike other cancers, melanoma can often be seen on the skin, making it easier to detect in its early stages. If left undetected, however, melanoma can spread to distant sites or distant organs. Once melanoma has spread to other parts of the body (known as stage IV), it is referred to as metastatic melanoma, and is very difficult to treat. In its later stages, melanoma most commonly spreads to the liver, lungs, bones and brain; at this point, the prognosis is very poor.

What Causes Melanoma?

Research suggests that approximately 90% of melanoma cases can be linked to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from natural or artificial sources, such as sunlight and indoor tanning beds. However, since melanoma can occur in all melanocytes throughout the body, even those that are never exposed to the sun, UV light cannot be solely responsible for a diagnosis, especially mucosal and ocular melanoma cases. Current research points to a combination of family history, genetics and environmental factors that are also to blame. Take a look at our Melanoma Fact Sheet at the left!

Taking steps to prevent melanoma is therefore the best first step in protecting yourself and your skin. It is important to learn about all of the risk factors.

Find out more at

7 Spots Melanoma May Be Hiding

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., and melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. Although it accounts for just 2% of all skin cancers, melanoma causes the most deaths from skin cancer. Melanomas, like other skin cancers, are most treatable when caught at their earliest stages before the cancer has spread.

Top 4 Treatments for Melanoma

Melanoma is a dangerous form of skin cancer that is deadly when not treated early. The health risks for developing melanoma are heightened with an exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or from using tanning beds. Melanoma can be surgically removed when detected in its earliest stages. Once a melanoma tumor advances, more advanced treatments are needed. The best treatment option is dependent on the extent of spread and stage of cancer, the patient’s general health, and personal preferences. Here we’ll review several of the most well-known treatment options for melanoma including surgery, immunotherapy and even alternative treatment options.

Great Options

Harvard bioengineers’ biomaterial-based cancer immunotherapies to be developed by Novartis

Read about Immunotherapy

The Enright Melanoma Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to raise sun safety awareness and to help prevent melanoma through education and early detection. We are a prevention-focused, doctor-led organization.

We are transforming the way youth learn about sun safety through our free online Enright Sun Safety CertificationTM programs, featuring our Enright Sun Safety ACE and a message to Apply Cover EnjoyTM .


Advocates Against Melanoma


“Breathe deeply. Keep moving forward. You will feel the sunshine again.” Claire shared her vision with all of us as she battled adolescent melanoma. 

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Did I hear you say,”Sunblock Stinks?”

Leah says,”Cancer Stinks more!”

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Addison’s Army


A very rare occurrence, the cancer was passed from mother to daughter during pregnancy.  Both lost their lives melanoma.

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What’s up with Tiffany’s Dad?


Melanoma skin cancer is explained in graphic novel format in this informative story that makes the science behind cancer accessible to young readers. The Medikidz are larger-than-life superheroes who live in Mediland, a living, moving virtual world within the human body. Each character is an expert on one component of human anatomy and the role it plays in fighting the disease. Using their extensive combined knowledge, the Medikidz conduct a journey through Mediland, exploring complex medical issues in a language and visual style that is attractive and accessible to tweens and teens. Appropriate humor and adventure are blended with accurate facts, so young readers can understand melanoma and its causes.

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Stage Free Melanoma


In the coming months, our donated bus will be converted into a mobile dermatology clinic, offering free skin screenings and education on melanoma prevention at local parks and beaches in Southern California. 

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