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What causes soft tissue melanoma?

Melanoma is a form of cancer that arises from the cells that create pigment in your skin and other parts of your body (melanocytes).  The vast majority of melanomas arise in the skin, and while there is a link between ultraviolet light exposure (from the sun, and from tanning beds) and skin melanoma, we don’t yet know exactly how melanoma cancers arise.  Rarely, melanoma can arise in the eye, the nasal cavity, the oral cavity, the vagina or the rectum.  Once again, we do not yet understand exactly how these melanomas arise.

Not much is known about what causes soft tissue melanoma, but it has something to do with the DNA that controls the production of certain cells. This type of cancer is considered a melanoma (even though it's often referred to as clear cell sarcoma) because researchers think that it's related to melanocytes, which are a type of cell in your body's tissue. In people with soft tissue melanoma, something has damaged the DNA that controls the production and growth of these cells. This genetic damage causes new cells to develop too quickly and old cells to stay alive for too long. This results in a buildup of cells that forms a tumor. In many cases, doctors aren't sure what causes the DNA abnormalities that lead to soft tissue melanoma.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.