Dysplastic Nevi And Skin Cancer: What You Should Know

As you go through your daily routine, you rarely stop to think about certain physical health factors and risks you may have. While most people pay close attention to their weight and physical size, they may not look regularly at the surface of their skin for any abnormal lesions, discolorations, or other oddities that could be signs of trouble. However, skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer diagnosed in the United States today. So, get to know a few facts about one of the typical signs of skin cancer known as dysplastic nevi and what you can do to aid early detection and treatment.

What Are Dysplastic Nevi?

Dysplastic nevi, also known as atypical moles, are the easiest skin abnormality for patients and physicians alike to recognize. These atypical moles are benign, meaning they are non-cancerous. Atypical moles are defined as moles that do not have defined edges or are fuzzy around the borders of the mole.

Additionally, typical moles are relatively uniform and round, while atypical moles are oddly shaped and large in comparison to other moles. Dysplastic nevi are also recognizable by the fact that they are usually not uniform in color. The color variation of the surface of the mole can range from pink to dark brown or almost black, tan, and various beige and brown shades. 

What Do Dysplastic Nevi Have To Do With Skin Cancer?

Before you disregard this atypical moles as being unimportant because they are not cancerous, consider the fact that dysplastic nevi are sometime known as pre-cancerous cells. In fact, people who have dysplastic nevi are at an increased risk of developing a form of skin cancer known as melanoma. 

The more dysplastic nevi a person has on the surface of their skin, the more risk they have of developing melanomas in their lifetime. When a person has 10 or more dysplastic nevi, their risk for developing skin cancer increases by around 12 percent. 

What Can You Do About Your Dysplastic Nevi?

When you realize you may be one of those people at higher risk of developing melanoma due to numerous dysplastic nevi, you may wonder what you can do to prevent or better detect developing melanoma. The first step you can take is to keep a close eye on your skin. Examine your moles for any changes or abnormalities every month or so.

Additionally, you should have annual appointments with a dermatologist. Your dermatologist will map out the moles on your skin, paying special attention to any that are atypical. Depending on the appearance of those atypical moles, your dermatologist may choose to monitor those moles for changes or choose to biopsy them for analysis. 

If they biopsy your dysplastic nevi and find cancerous cells, the next step will most often be further skin cancer surgery to remove atypical moles and skin lesions that are cancerous as well. Further treatment can include radiation therapy and chemotherapy, depending on the extent of your melanoma and whether it has spread to other body systems.

Now that you know more about the link between dysplastic nevi and skin cancer, you can keep a closer eye on your skin and mole health. If you notice any changes or abnormalities in your moles, contact a physician like Countryside Dermatology & Laser Center right away for further analysis and examination. Remember that early detection is key in prevention and treatment of skin cancer. So be vigilant and take care of your skin.