Melanoma is a type of cancer that forms in pigment cells (melanocytes). Melanocytes produce melanin to help protect the skin from ultraviolet (UV) radiation, such as sunlight. These cells are the cause of freckles and moles and produce the brown colour of a suntan. Melanomas can occur anywhere on the body, not only on areas exposed to the sun. If melanoma is not treated quickly, it may spread via the lymphatic system to other areas of the body.
Western Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world with over 1,300 people diagnosed each year. It is one of the deadliest cancers and is the cancer most likely to affect 15 to 39 year olds. Malignant melanoma makes up only 1-2% of all skin cancers, but is classed as the most dangerous.