Dysplastic Naevus (Dysplastic Mole)


What is a Dysplastic Naevus?

A dysplastic naevus is a type of mole that looks quite different from the common mole.

These moles may be inherited and some people may be genetically susceptible to developing a very large number of these moles on their skin, which is then referred to as "Dysplastic Naevi Syndrome".

What does a Dysplastic Naevus look like?

A dysplastic naevus has an unusual appearance and can mimic melanomas. They may have:

  • Irregular shapes and indistinct borders
  • Varying colours ranging from pink, tan, brown to black
  • Flat and raised parts to the mole
Is Dysplastic Naevus dangerous?

It is not uncommon for a person to have a small number of these dysplastic moles. Dysplastic moles may be precursors to melanomas in some cases but this risk is especially significant in those with numerous dysplastic naevi.

  • People with 5 or more dysplastic moles on their skin have a six times greater chance of developing Melanoma skin cancer than people without.
  • The more dysplastic moles a person has, the greater the risk of Melanoma development.
  • People with Dysplastic Naevus Syndrome have a very high lifetime risk of developing Melanoma skin cancer, especially if there is also a family history of melanoma.
Management of Dysplastic Naevus

Often an individual finds out he or she had a dysplastic naevus removed in the pathology report. This is usually good news as the alternative might have been a melanoma. No further treatment is required for a dysplastic mole that has been removed.

If one has multiple dysplastic naevi proven on biopsy, or the trained doctor advises that there are similar moles remaining then the person has to be extremely vigilant with sun protection, regular self skin examination and periodic skin checks with a trained skin cancer doctor or dermatologist. Total Body Photography and Serial Digital Dermoscopy Imaging are helpful tools as well to track these dysplastic naevi.

The majority of dysplastic moles will remain benign and only need removal when they become suspicious for melanoma.