Melanoma is a disease of the skin in which cancer cells are found in the melanocytes, the cells that produce color in the skin through a pigment called melanin. Melanoma usually occurs in adults, but it may occasionally be found in children and adolescents. Melanoma may also be called cutaneous melanoma or malignant melanoma. Melanoma is an uncommon, but potentially aggressive form of skin cancer.

Where is melanoma most often found?

Most melanoma starts in the skin and is referred to as cutaneous melanoma. It most often appears on fair-skinned men and women, but people with darker skin types can also be affected, particularly on the palms, soles, or nails. In men, melanoma most often appears on the back. In women, the legs and trunk are more common sites. It can also develop on the face, neck, or other areas of excessive sun exposure. Rarely, melanomas can form in parts of the body not covered by skin such as the eyes, mouth, genital region, and brain.

The Stanford Skin Cancer Program has strong expertise in the treatment of atypical melanocytic neoplasms and melanoma in the adult and pediatric population.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.

Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.

Before beginning treatment, ask your doctor about any clinical trials you should consider. Learn more about clinical trials for cancer patients.

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