DNA Damage

Damaged DNA in Melanocytes Can Cause Melanoma

Melanoma is the name of the cancer that results from a melanocyte that inherits or experiences sufficient mutations that it grows and spreads in a dangerous way.

When melanoma is caught early, the cancer can be removed to prevent it from growing into the deeper layers of the skin, where it can spread to distant sites through the lymph and blood vessels.

Causes of DNA Damage

  • You can inherit damaged DNA from a parent. A gene is a defined section of DNA.
  • DNA damage may also be caused by exposure to carcinogens in the environment, such as cigarette smoke.
  • The majority of melanomas (80% – 90%) are thought to occur, not as a direct result of an inherited gene defect, but rather due to DNA damage acquired through one’s lifetime. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is known to directly cause DNA damage that can lead to cancerous changes in our cells.
  • UV radiation is the most important environmental exposure that increases one’s risk of developing melanoma. UV radiation comes primarily from the sun, but can also be found in all light that causes a tan, such as tanning beds.
  • DNA damage happens in cells every day. Many of the cells with damaged DNA die, but your body also has the ability to repair damaged DNA cells. In rare cases, the cells with damaged DNA survive and perpetuate the damage in the cells they create by dividing. In this way, cancer grows and spreads.

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