Dysplastic nevus overview

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Dysplastic nevus Microchapters


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Differentiating Dysplastic nevus from other Diseases

Epidemiology and Demographics

Risk Factors


Natural History, Complications and Prognosis


History and Symptoms

Physical Examination

Laboratory Findings

Other Imaging Findings

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Medical Therapy


Primary Prevention

Secondary Prevention

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] ; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Aditya Ganti M.B.B.S. [2]


A dysplastic nevus, is an atypical mole; a mole whose appearance is different from that of common moles. Dysplastic nevi are generally larger than ordinary moles and have irregular and indistinct borders. Their color frequently is not uniform and ranges from pink to dark brown; they usually are flat, but parts may be raised above the skin surface. Dysplastic nevus can be found anywhere, but are most common on the trunk in men, and on the calves in women.


Dysplastic nevus is a type of melanocytic lesion.


Depending on cytologic atypia, melanocytic lesions range from dysplastic nevus to melanoma.

Differential diagnosis

Dysplastic nevus should be differentiated from common moles and melanoma.


Males are more commonly affected by dysplastic nevus compared to females.

Risk factors

Sunlight exposure is the most important risk factor for the development of dysplastic nevus.


Patients with dysplastic nevus should undergo regular screening to prevent progression to melanoma.

Natural history and complications

Dysplastic nevus can progress to melanoma if it is not treated adequately. Complications of dysplastic nevi include melanoma and metastasis.

Physical Examination

The only way to diagnose dysplastic nevus is to remove tissue and check it for dysplasia.


When an atypical mole has been identified, a biopsy takes place in order to best diagnose it. Local anesthetic is used to numb the area, then the mole is biopsied. The biopsy material is then sent to a laboratory to be evaluated by a Pathologist.


Surgery is the mainstay of treatment for dysplastic nevus.

Primary Prevention

Everyone should protect their skin from the sun and stay away from sunlamps and tanning booths, but for people who have dysplastic nevi, it is even more important to protect the skin and avoid getting a suntan or sunburn.


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