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The skin cells that produce pigment (melanocytes) sometimes group together to form
moles. Most people have at least 10 moles on their
Melanocytes can form abnormal moles, also called atypical
moles or dysplastic nevi. These moles are not malignant themselves. But their
presence is a warning of an inherited tendency to develop
melanoma. Some people have only 1 or 2 atypical moles. Some people may have more than 100. The tendency to develop atypical moles can
run in families (inherited predisposition).
ABCDE rule of detection means watching for:
Atypical moles are seen most commonly on the back but
may be anywhere on the body, including below the waist, on the scalp, or on
the breasts or buttocks. They may fade into surrounding skin and include a flat
portion that is level with the skin surface. They may be smooth, slightly
scaly, or have a rough, irregular, "pebbly" appearance.
moles usually are not present at birth but develop some time later.
Several types of atypical moles are known to develop
before melanoma (melanoma precursors). Atypical moles are the most common
precursor, but not all atypical moles develop into melanoma. Precursors to
October 12, 2012
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Amy McMichael, MD - Dermatology
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