While it is known that melanoma results from problems with melanin-producing cells, the factors that damage DNA in these skin cells is unknown, reports Mayo Clinic. The general belief is that genetic and environmental factors combine to cause melanoma.
DNA damage to melanin-producing cells causes rapid growth in new cells, which form a cancerous mass, according to Mayo Clinic. Exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays or those produced by artificial tanning beds are believed to be primary culprits behind melanoma. However, melanoma may occur in non-exposed body locations. Fair skin, a significant history of sunburns, living closer to the equator, having moles, a family history of melanoma and a poor immune system are other possible factors.