Dysplastic naevi, also known as atypical moles, are moles that have abnormal or irregular features. These moles are not cancerous themselves but can indicate a higher risk of developing melanoma, a type of skin cancer. Let’s answer the most common questions about dysplastic naevi.

What do dysplastic naevi look like?

Dysplastic naevi are often larger than normal moles and can be irregularly shaped, with uneven colour and borders. They may have a mix of colors including tan, brown, black, and red. Dysplastic naevi can occur anywhere on the body, but are most commonly found on the trunk in men and on the legs in women.

Is a dysplastic naevus cancerous? What do dysplastic naevi turn into?

Dysplastic naevi are benign (not cancerous). However, individuals with dysplastic naevi may have a higher risk of developing melanoma, especially if they have a family history of the condition. It is important for individuals with dysplastic naevi to be vigilant in monitoring their skin for any changes and to seek medical attention if any changes occur.

Did you know?
Dysplastic naevi can be inherited. Studies have shown that individuals with a family history of dysplastic naevi or melanoma are more likely to develop dysplastic naevi themselves. In fact, it is estimated that up to 10 per cent of the population may have inherited a genetic predisposition to develop dysplastic naevi. This highlights the importance of understanding and monitoring your family history of skin cancer and seeking medical attention if any unusual moles are detected!

Are dysplastic naevi bad? Should a dysplastic naevus be removed?

Dysplastic naevi are only removed if they are symptomatic for skin cancer. If a dysplastic naevus is suspicious for melanoma, a biopsy may be necessary to determine if it is cancerous. If melanoma is diagnosed, treatment may involve surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy, depending on the stage and severity of the cancer. 

What percentage of dysplastic naevi turn into melanoma? How often does a dysplastic naevus turn into a melanoma?

About 25 per cent of melanomas start from dysplastic naevi. Most melanoma appear on their own.

How to prevent melanoma in people with dysplastic naevi

Prevention and early detection are key to managing the risk of melanoma in individuals with dysplastic naevi. Sun protection measures, such as wearing protective clothing and applying sunscreen, are important in reducing the risk of skin cancer. Regular skin checks with a doctor with advanced training in skin cancer detection are also recommended, especially for individuals with a family history of melanoma or other risk factors.

Dysplastic naevi are abnormal moles that can indicate a higher risk of melanoma. Individuals with dysplastic naevi should be vigilant in monitoring their skin and take steps to reduce their risk of skin cancer, including sun protection and regular skin checks.