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For further information, see CMDT Part 6-04: Atypical Nevi

Key Features

  • The term "atypical nevus" or "atypical mole" has supplanted "dysplastic nevus"

  • It is estimated that 5–10% of the white population in the United States has 1 or more atypical nevi

  • Recreational sun exposure is a primary risk in nonfamilial cases

  • There is an increased risk of melanoma in the following populations

    • Patients with 50 or more nevi with 1 or more atypical moles and 1 mole at least 8 mm or larger

    • Patients with a few to many definitely atypical moles; these patients should be educated to recognize changes and be monitored every 6–12 months

    • Kindreds with familial melanoma (numerous atypical nevi and a family history of two first-degree relatives with melanoma) require closer attention because their risk of developing single or multiple melanomas approaches 50% by age 50

Clinical Findings

  • The moles are large (> 6 mm in diameter), with an ill-defined, irregular border and irregularly distributed pigmentation


  • The diagnosis is made clinically and not histologically


  • Moles should be removed only if they are suspected to be melanomas

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