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  • Melanocytic Nevus

    Melanocytic nevus is a form of skin lesion that appears within the first two decades of life. It originates in the melanocytes (the pigment producing cells) that colonize the epidermis. This disease can appear underneath the skin or on the skin’s surface.

    Melanocytic nevus is related to common birthmarks and they can appear to be a simple beauty mark. These growths are pinkish to brown in coloration and they are less than a centimeter thick.

    Melanocytic nevi tend to multiply throughout an individual’s life. This multiplication peaks in the third or fourth decade of life. Although melanocytic nevus is not contagious or life threatening to the patient, treatment immediately upon diagnosis is highly advised.

    Risk Factors

    Risk factors associated with melanocytic nevus include:

    • Number: Having 100 or more moles drastically increases your chances of developing melanocytic nevus.
    • Family History: Most patients that develop melanocytic nevus have a parent or sibling with the disorder.
    • Weakened Immune System: Organ transplants and certain medications that weaken an individual’s immune system may lead to the development of melanocytic nevus.
    • Sun Exposure: Over exposure to the sun’s radioactive rays, especially in adolescence, leads tot he development of melanocytic nevus.
    • Xeroderma Pigmentosum: This rare, heredity skin disease caused by a defect in the enzyme that normally repairs ultra-violet damaged DNA, may lead to melanocytic nevus development.
    • Age: This disease develops primarily during adolescence.

    Signs and Symptoms

    The most common technique to remembering the signs and symptoms of Melanocytic Nevus is the acronym ABCDE:

    • Asymmetrical skin lesion
    • Border of area is irregular
    • Color varies from brown, to tan or pink. Cracking, bleeding, and itching can also occur.
    • Diameter of mole is greater than 6mm causing pain and sensitivity
    • Evolution of mole is a sign of malignancy

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Individual’s diagnosed with melanocytic nevus have a 2-5% lifetime risk of the disease becoming cancerous. As a result, malignant activity rarely transpires, resulting in an overall positive prognosis. If melanoma development is associated with melanocytic nevus, a patient’s prognosis significantly worsens.

    Prevention

    If a patient has a family history of melanocytic nevus, it is advised to have annual skin examinations. Self-examinations are also effective. Taking progressive photographs of the nevi will help a skin care physician or doctor analyze the disorder’s behavior.

    Everyone should wear quality sun screen with an SPF rating of 30 or more.

    Diagnosis and Staging

    To diagnose melanocytic nevus, an excisional biopsy is performed to remove part of or the entire lesion. It is often not recommended to remove the entire lesion because this commonly results in lesion recurrence. A punch biopsy is the diagnostic method of choice. This procedure involves taking several small samples of the lesion to be further examined under a microscope.

    No staging is required.

    Melanocytic Nevus Treatment

    Once a patient is diagnosed, the next step is remove the abnormal mole. Surgery, where a wide, local incision is made can result in a high risk of the lesion returning, but it is the most widely used treatment option. Once the lesion is removed, it should be submitted for microscopic evaluation. Re-growth once the nevus is removed is common. As a result, frequent skin exams by a dermatologist or other skin care specialist is recommended.

    Radiation (the use of ionizing radiation beams to kill cells) and cryotherapy (the use of extreme cold to kill cells) may also be used to treat melanocytic venus. These treatments, however, are not as widely used and they yield mixed results.