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Nat Rev Cancer. 2016 Jun;16(6):345-58. doi: 10.1038/nrc.2016.37. Epub 2016 Apr 29.

From melanocytes to melanomas.

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University of California, San Francisco, Departments of Dermatology and Pathology and Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, Box 3111, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


Melanomas on sun-exposed skin are heterogeneous tumours, which can be subtyped on the basis of their cumulative levels of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. A melanocytic neoplasm can also be staged by how far it has progressed, ranging from a benign neoplasm, such as a naevus, to a malignant neoplasm, such as a metastatic melanoma. Each subtype of melanoma can evolve through distinct evolutionary trajectories, passing through (or sometimes skipping over) various stages of transformation. This Review delineates several of the more common progression trajectories that occur in the patient setting and proposes models for tumour evolution that integrate genetic, histopathological, clinical and biological insights from the melanoma literature.

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