What is Dysplastic Nevus?

Dysplastic nevus is the medical term for an abnormal or potentially precancerous mole. The features we look for include irregular shape, more than one color or shade of a color, lack of symmetry (one half of the mole looks different than the other half), or a changing or newly growing mole or growth – sometimes moles can even be flesh colored but if they are growing rapidly they could be of concern. During a body check screening, we look at all of the growths on your body. We measure them, keep a record of each one and evaluate them with a dermatoscope. The dermatoscope allows us to see features of the mole that are not visible to the naked eye. This analysis allows us to determine, if anything, should be removed.

Dysplastic Nevus Syndrome, also known as Familial Atypical Mole and Melanoma (FAMM) is a syndrome where a patient has a larger than normal number of moles, usually greater than 50. This runs in families. In order to be diagnosed as having this syndrome one must meet certain criteria, which include:

  1. Having 50 or more nevi or moles, some which are atypical
  2. Having one or more first or second degree relatives with malignant melanoma
  3. Moles having certain features under a microscope.

There is a genetic mutation associated with FAMM that has also been shown to have an association with pancreatic cancer. Patients with this syndrome have to be scrupulous with sun protection and have regular skin exams.