Dysplastic Nevi are also commonly referred to as atypical moles and are moles whose appearance is different from that of common moles. Dysplastic nevi are generally darker, larger and have irregular borders and colors when compared to common moles. Dysplastic nevi are more likely than ordinary moles to develop into a type of skin cancer called melanoma. People who have dysplastic nevi have an increased risk of developing melanoma and should have their moles checked regularly by a dermatologist. Dysplastic nevi can be treated in the office with surgical excision.
Having many dysplastic nevi is usually is hereditary, although it may be caused by excessive sun exposure. The principle method of prevention is sun protection, as well as regular visits to the dermatologist to make sure none of them are growing or changing. Our philosophy is to do thorough full body examinations and document all of the moles; comparing your current visit body map with your previous map for discrepancies or changes. Through vigilance, we attempt to remove the mole when it is at a dysplastic stage before it becomes a melanoma. Although not every dysplastic nevus will become a melanoma, until we have a better way of determining which will go on to become cancer, this is the solution which seems the most prudent.
Melanoma has been shown to be caused by ultraviolet light. 2 types of ultraviolet light exist UVB (burning rays) and UVA (aging rays). We now know that UVA is highly implicated in getting melanoma and that it needs to be blocked by sunscreen. Most sunscreens (even sometimes ones that say UVA/UVB on the labels) do not adequately block out the UVA rays. This is why we advocate the use of zinc oxide containing sunscreens, that do block a large spectrum of UVA rays. Sun protective clothing is also important, as it isn't always practical to be able to put enough sunscreen on to protect oneself in all situations. Finally, do NOT go in a tanning booth. Tanning booths give you high dosages of UVA, far higher than would be gotten by a full day at the beach. Even a small number of sessions of tanning in a booth will increase your risk of getting melanoma.