Why 'dysplastic naevus' is a dangerous misnomer

The label can be misleading and cause confusion for clinicians

The term 'dysplastic naevus' is a misnomer that implies the lesion is in some way harmful to its host and on a continuum somewhere between benign and malignant.

While it is true that melanomas develop as clones of cells undergoing stepwise mutations, in the majority of melanomas, that process occurs without relation to any naevus.

When there is an associated naevus, it is now known that in most cases the naevus will be non-dysplastic.

Multiple naevi (any type) and large naevi are true markers for melanoma risk, but that risk is to the patient not to the multiple or large naevi because most of the melanomas in these patients will arise from clear skin.

The use of the term ‘dysplastic naevus’ may be convenient when justifying an unnecessary procedure, but with increased expertise in dermatoscopy, the excision of benign lesions can be reduced dramatically while at the same time confidence

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