Atypia

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Overview

Atypia is a clinical term for abnormality in a cell. The term is medical jargon for an atypical cell. It may or may not be a precancerous indication associated with later malignancy, but the level of appropriate concern is highly dependent on the context with which it is diagnosed.

Atypia can be caused by an infection or irritation if diagnosed in a Pap smear, for example. In the uterus it is more likely to be precancerous.

The term atypia is also used dermatoligically and can be a precursor to melanoma.

A dermatological pathology report may show normal (junctional, compound, or intradermal) nevi, various levels of atypia (slight, moderate, severe), or melanoma. Atypia in this context is a precursor to melanoma, but is not yet melanoma.

If a mole shows slight or moderate atypia and margins are clear, no further treatment is typically needed. It would be wise to re-examine if pigmentation recurs after excision. If a mole shows slight or moderate atypia and margins are not clear, it is typical to re-excise or re-shave to get around the lesion.

If a mole shows marked or severe atypia or any degree of pathologist's concern for melanoma, it would be wise to seek professionals for further evaluation.



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