Author(s): Elder DE
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Abstract Melanocytic nevi, which are benign tumors of melanocytes, may have occasional cosmetic significance but, for the most part, they are important only in relation to melanoma. Nevi are the most important simulants of melanoma, both clinically and histologically, and can usually be reliably distinguished from melanomas using published criteria. Some lesions are characterized by greater degrees of atypia and may be more difficult to diagnose. Dysplastic nevi are among the most important simulants of melanoma. Nevi may also be important as potential precursors of melanoma; however, most nevi are stable and will not progress to malignancy. Nevi are vastly more common than melanomas and the rate of progression of individual lesions is very low. Therefore, nevi are not as a rule managed by wholesale excision to prevent melanoma. Nevi are also important as risk markers, identifying individuals at greater risk of developing melanoma in the future. Dysplastic nevi and, to a lesser extent, common acquired and congenital nevi are among the most important melanoma risk markers. Nevi of special sites have been identified as nevi that may show atypical features suggestive of a dysplastic nevus or of a melanoma. However, they are not risk markers and they are not malignancies. Nevi of genital skin, acral skin, and flexural skin are among the most important 'nevi of special sites'. It is important, in considering the differential diagnosis of a lesion in a special site, to avoid overcalling such a lesion as a melanoma or a dysplastic nevus because this could lead to excessive treatment. Conversely, it is important to avoid undercalling a lesion that is a dysplastic nevus or a melanoma as a nevus of special sites, because in this circumstance a patient could lose the opportunity either for surveillance to recognize a developing melanoma at an early, curable stage, or for definitive treatment of an established malignancy. In this monograph, dysplastic nevi and nevi of special sites are compared and contrasted in relation to melanoma.
This article was published in Mod Pathol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Experimental Dermatology Research