What causes head and neck mucosal melanomas?

Updated: May 07, 2020
  • Author: Neeraj N Mathur, MBBS, MS, DNB(ENT), MNAMS, FAMS; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Unlike its cutaneous counterpart, exposure to sunlight is not an etiologic factor for mucosal melanoma. Although irritants and carcinogenic compounds in the air, such as tobacco smoke, have been implicated in the development of this malignancy, the potential role of these compounds is unclear. In assessing the influence of cigarettes, Axell and Hedin demonstrated that chemical and physical stimulation caused hyperproduction of the melanocytes in the oral epithelium, resulting in oral pigmented lesions. [3]

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