Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. It can spread rapidly and can be life-threatening if left untreated. Melanoma develops from skin cells called "melanocytes". These are found in the deeper layers of the skin and produce a protein called melanin.Melanin protects the skin by absorbing harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
There are the same number of Melanocytes in dark and fair skin, but the Melanocytes in darker skin produce more melanin. People from ethnic groups with naturally darker skin have more protection against UV radiation and so are less likely to get skin cancers, including Melanoma.
Most Melanomas are caused by exposure to UV radiation in sunlight.Sun exposure in childhood gives a greater risk of Melanoma than sun exposure in later life. There is also a greater risk of Melanoma with high doses of sun exposure occasionally (eg, during holiday and recreational activities), than with more continuous sun exposure (eg, daily work outdoors).
Sunbeds expose users to higher levels of dangerous UV radiation than the sun. They increase your risk of Melanoma and other skin cancers.