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SICK S2 • E3

How Do Moles Become Cancerous?

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Published on Jul 30, 2019

Most people have multiple moles, and they come in lots of different shapes and sizes, but when is a mole just a mole, and how does it turn into a deadly form of cancer?
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Moles, birthmarks, beauty marks. Usually they’re harmless, but occasionally they could be a sign of a very serious disease: melanoma. Not all melanomas start from a mole, but all moles are made up of the type of cells that can become melanomas: melanocytes.

The melanocytes deliver melanin to the surrounding keratinocytes, or skin cells in the epidermis, giving our skin its color. So when we come in contact with UV light from the Sun, this melanin protects our skin from damage, while also signaling to the body to produce more melanin.

This system works pretty well, but it’s not perfect.

Learn more about melanoma, mutations (like the BRAF mutation), immunotherapy, and more in this episode of SICK.
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SICK is a new series that looks at how diseases actually work inside our body. We'll be visiting medical centers and talking to top researchers and doctors to uncover the mysteries of viruses, bacteria, fungi and our own immune system. Come back every Tuesday for a new episode and let us know in the comments which diseases you think we should cover next.
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Read More:
The Protective Role of Melanin Against UV Damage in Human Skin
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/arti...

Skin melanocytes: biology and development
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/arti...

Skin 'sees' UV light, starts producing pigment
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...
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