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Cancer biology 
Cancer stem cells 
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Melanocytic skin tumours include a large variety of benign and malignant neoplasms with distinct clinical, morphological and genetic profiles. From a clinical and public health point of view, the malignant melanomas are the most important group of skin cancers. Although less common than the familiar basal and squamous cell tumours of the skin, they are much more frequently fatal, due to their intrinsic tendency to lymphatic and haematogenic metastasis.

Intermittent high-dose UV radiation is the major environmental risk factor, often in combination with endogenous factors, including genetic susceptibility. Malignant melanoma affects predominantly fair-skinned caucasians, although they also occur in ethnic groups characterized by a more pigmented skin. The sharp increase in incidence rates largely reflects lifestyle attitudes towards vacational sun exposure, but recent data indicate that this trend is now levelling off. Primary prevention and screening for early lesions are considered the most promising approach to a reduction of melanoma mortality.



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