Melanocytic nevus causes

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Editors-In-Chief: Martin I. Newman, M.D., FACS, Cleveland Clinic Florida, [1];Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Qurrat-ul-ain Abid, M.D.[2] Michel C. Samson, M.D., FRCSC, FACS [3]


Scientists suspect that overexposure to ultraviolet light, including excessive sunlight, may play a role in the formation of acquired moles. However, more research is needed in this area.


Dysplastic nevus arises from the epidermal melanocytes, which are neural crest cells involved in the synthesis of melanin (a brown pigment with photoprotective properties).

While melanoma may be caused by sporadic genetic mutations (e.g. BRAF and/or N-RAS) or may be part of familial syndromes.[1]


  • Some scientists suspect that overexposure to ultraviolet light, including excessive sunlight, may play a role in the formation of acquired moles.[2] However, more research is needed in this area.


  • Genes can also have an influence on a person’s moles.
  • Dysplastic nevi or atypical mole syndrome is a hereditary condition which causes the person to have a large number of moles (often 100 or more) with some larger than normal or atypical.
  • This often leads to a higher risk of melanoma, a serious skin cancer.[3]
  • A slight majority of melanomas do not form in an existing mole, but rather create a new growth on the skin. Nevertheless, those with more dysplastic nevi are at a higher risk of this type of melanoma occurrence.[4][5] Such persons need to be checked regularly for any changes in their moles and to note any new ones.


  1. O'Brien O, Lyons T, Murphy S, Feeley L, Power D, Heffron C (November 2017). "BRAF V600 mutation detection in melanoma: a comparison of two laboratory testing methods". J. Clin. Pathol. 70 (11): 935–940. doi:10.1136/jclinpath-2017-204367. PMID 28424234. Vancouver style error: initials (help)
  2. Arne van Schanke, Gemma M.C.A.L. van Venrooij, Marjan J. Jongsma, H. Alexander Banus, Leon H.F. Mullenders, Henk J. van Kranen, and Frank R. de Gruijl. Induction of Nevi and Skin Tumors in Ink4a/ArfXpa Knockout Mice by Neonatal, Intermittent, or Chronic UVB Exposures. Cancer Res 2006; 66 (5), 2608-15.
  3. Burkhart, C.G MPH, MD. Dysplastic nevus declassified; even the NIH recommends elimination of confusing terminology. SKINmed: Dermatology for the Clinician 2(1):12-13, 2003.
  4. D.J. Pope, T. Sorahan, J.R. Marsden, P.M. Ball, R.P. Grimley, and I.M. Peck. Benign pigmented nevi in children. Arch of Dermatology 2006;142:1599-1604
  5. D.E. Goldgar, L.A. Cannon-Albright, L.J. Meyer, M.W. Pipekorn, J.J. Zone, M.H. Skolnick. Inheritance of Nevus Number and Size in Melanoma and Dysplastic Nevus Syndrome Kindreds. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 1991 83(23):1726-1733

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