|Description:||Under a low magnification of 50X, this image depicts a photomicrograph of a normal human skin tissue specimen, revealing the stratified cytoarchitecture common to the body's largest organ, which covers its exterior surface. Note the skin’s three major layers: the outermost epidermis; the dermis, and the hypodermis.|
The melanocyte is a skin cell component of the epidermal layer, shielding the skin and underlying cells from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays by creating a dark-colored pigment known as melanin. When melanocytes become abnormal, usually due to exposure to ultraviolet light, they can give rise to a cancer known as melanoma.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The two most common types of skin cancer—basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas—are highly curable. However, melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, is more dangerous. About 65%–90% of melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.