Dysplastic naevi are moles with unusual features that may resemble melanoma, however, in the majority of cases are harmless. They are more common in fair skin people, and represent one of the most common conditions we see at My Skin Cancer Centre. Dysplastic naevi have the potential to change, and melanoma within dysplastic naevi may occur, however it is impossible to predict which moles may change. The importance of dysplastic naevi is that these moles should be followed up or monitored with both photography and clinical examination by your skin cancer doctor.
Important facts on Dysplastic Naevi
Dysplastic naevi are also known as atypical naevi or Clark’s naevi. These names all refer to moles that have unusual features when examined both on a clinical level as well as under a microscope following a biopsy. Atypical naevi while generally considered benign and not of concern, may in certain cases be precursors to the dangerous skin cancer, melanoma. Often these moles can look similar to a melanoma in that they may be asymmetrical with irregular borders and may have a dark orvariegated appearance.
When examined under a microscope these moles have features that are different to those seen in “typical” moles.
While having one atypical naevus is not of great concern, those who have a lot of these moles (greater than 5) are at increased risk for developing a melanoma at some point in the future.
Read more about melanoma skin cancer
YES, Familial Atypical Mole and Melanoma syndrome (FAMM) previously referred to as dysplastic naevus syndrome refers to a genetic condition in which family members exhibit atypical naevi. For a diagnosis of FAMM, all of the following criteria must be present:
Any atypical naevus should be examined by your doctor or dermatologist, such that a decision may be made as to whether or not the mole should be removed. Often, most patients will undergo a comprehensive baseline skin examination. Based on the findings from the examination your doctor will determine the ideal management plan.
As a basic guide, dysplastic nevi with mildly atypical features can be carefully watched with regular examinations for changes in appearance. A routine skin checkshould be carried out at least every 12 months and patients should perform monthly self skin examinations. More frequent examinations may be indicated if additional risk factors exist. Dysplastic nevi with a moderately atypical appearance are often completely removed by a biopsy and no further treatment is required. Dysplastic naevi with severely atypical features are best treated by complete removal along with a surrounding margin of normal skin.
As a general rule, any mole that does not “behave” in the expected manner or changes over time is likely to be removed under local anaesthetic.
Things to look for on self examination:
– Any new moles
– Any changes to existing moles (size, shape, colour, bleeding, itch or pain)