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Like most cancers, the cause of melanomas involves interplay between genetic and environmental factors. It is generally agreed that ultraviolet-light-induced mutations in melanocytes is the single most important environmental factor in the induction of cutaneous melanomas. The fact that melanomas are difficult to produce experimentally as well as their appearance in areas of the body in which no light exposure occurs has fueled some controversy as to cause. On the other hand, there is an interesting correlation between exposure to sunlight as defined by the earth's latitude and the incidence of melanoma. Melanomas tend to occur on sun-exposed skin in lightly pigmented individuals. There are important genetic factors that predispose certain individuals to produce melanomas. Some of these genes have been identified.
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