Encyclopedia of Cancer

Living Edition
| Editors: Manfred Schwab

Melanocytic Tumors

  • Wolter J. Mooi
  • Thomas Krausz
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27841-9_3607-2



Melanocytic tumors are neoplastic proliferations of cells featuring phenotypic characteristics of melanocytes. The large majority originates in the skin. Benign melanocytic tumors are melanocytic nevi (or nevocellular nevi or, briefly, nevi or “moles”); malignant ones are melanomas.


Melanocytic tumors are neoplasms of cells showing the features of melanocytic differentiation, the most distinctive of which is the production of melanin. With few exceptions, this phenotype is thought to reflect their origin from a melanocyte. In mammals, most melanocytes reside in the basal epidermal cell layer and in the hair follicle. Smaller numbers are located in the dermal connective tissue, the uvea, the meninges, and the inner ear. In poikilotherms such as reptiles and fish, most melanocytes reside in the dermis.

Cutaneous and extracutaneous melanocytic tumors are subdivided into...


Melanocytic Nevus Melanoma Risk Melanocytic Tumor Congenital Nevus Dermal Connective Tissue 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PathologyVU Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of PathologyUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA