Metastatic Cancer: Melanoma

Melanoma Chapter Overview

Jennifer Kong

Chapter Learning Objectives

By the end of this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Describe the normal role of melanocytes in skin.
  • Explain how damage to DNA can cause cancerous changes in genes – particularly proto-oncogenes and tumour suppressors.
  • Examine a histological preparation of skin and identify common histological features in cancerous cells and the basement membrane.
  • Briefly describe how metastasis can develop and likely sites of metastasis.
  • Explain how collaboration between  health care professionals work towards diagnosis and management of melanoma.
  • Recall measures to lower one’s risk for developing melanoma.

Skin cancers are THE most common types of cancers.  Thankfully, most types of skin cancers do not result in death.  However, melanoma is one type of skin cancer that can be lethal if not detected and treated early enough.  This chapter will first discuss normal epithelial tissue and skin anatomy and histology, followed by a brief introduction to how cancer can develop in a cell. To introduce melanoma, author Lyz Boyd will guide you from the point of view the reader who sees a funny looking mole to the naked eye.  Lyz will introduce the histopathology of melanoma and metastasis.

Watch this Open Education video for a quick introduction to melanoma.

How Likely Are You to Get Skin Cancer? by New York Magazine, licensed under CC-BY 4.0

This chapter is subdivided into:

  • Pre-test
  • Normal skin anatomy & histology
  • Introduction to cell differentiation and cancer
  • Pathophysiology of melanoma
  • Progression of melanoma: metastasis
  • Interview with medical Laboratory Science technologist about biopsy of possible melanoma
  • Post-test


The following abbreviations are used throughout the chapter.

ACTH Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
BMI Body Mass Index
CDK Cyclin-Dependent Kinase
G1 Gap 1 Phase
G2 Gap 2 Phase
hESCs Human Embryonic Stem Cells
iPSCs Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
MSH Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormone
S phase Synthesis Phase
UV Ultraviolet


This chapter was predominantly composed by medical student Lyz Boyd as part of her Yr 1 FLEX project with UBC Undergraduate Medical Program.


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Pathology Copyright © 2022 by Jennifer Kong is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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