Melanoma is undoubtedly an important public health issue accounting for a bulk of skin cancer deaths despite accounting for <5% of all skin cancers . Melanomas originate from melanin-producing cells called melanocytes. During embryological development, melanocytes originate in the neural crest cells eventually migrating to the epidermis . While benign proliferations of melanocytes lead to formation of melanocytic nevi, or moles, malignant transformation of melanocytes leads to melanoma .
The interplay of a variety of factors seems to account for the formation and eventual total number of melanocytic nevi. Age, skin type and sun exposure are few of the common factors that are associated with increased nevi . In general, the number of nevi tends to increase with age and then decrease during the third decade of life . Delay of this process of senescence, possibly due to genetic mutations, has been associated with an increased risk of melanoma .
Melanoma is a deadly malignancy, which continues to increase in incidence worldwide. Fortunately, mortality rates have started to stabilize in many countries . This could be attributed to new melanoma therapies that are continuously being researched and developed. More likely though, it is due to early detection via screening, which is vitally important for not only detecting melanomas at earlier stages but also for preventing melanomas . A genetic etiology is clearly evident as a risk factor for melanoma, especially the role of mutations such as in BRAF and CDKN2A . However, the total body number of melanocytic nevi remains one of the strongest risk factors for the development of melanoma .