Pathologist’s terminology

A pathologist can provide an unequivocal diagnosis for the overwhelming majority of skin lesions, but occasionally this may be difficult or even impossible.

Difficulty most commonly arises in the assessment of unusual melanocytic lesions, where it may not be possible to exclude a diagnosis of melanoma with certainty. Some pathologists clearly explain this uncertainty, but sometimes apparently precise terms in pathology reports may be used to convey uncertainty.

The diagnosis of ‘severely dysplastic naevus’ is