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Melanocytic Nevi: A Benign Form of Neoplasm

written by: Vasanth • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 2/22/2011

Melanocytic nevi is a skin lesion or mole that is not cancerous. It is a type of neoplasm that is composed of melanocytes. Neoplasms are an abnormal growth of cells that may be benign or malignant. Melanocytic nevi and neoplasms as a whole should be examined by a doctor. Surgery may be required.

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    Neoplasm

    Neoplasm is a type of tissue that develops abnormally. The cells do not respond to the surface of neighboring cells when they come into contact. This leads to uncontrolled cell division and tissue growth. The word 'neoplasm' literally means 'new growth.' It is also referred to as a tumor.

    Neoplasms can be either cancerous or non-cancerous. Cancerous neoplasms affect the normal tissue surrounding it. If left untreated, cancerous neoplasms can spread to other parts of the body. Non-cancerous, or benign, neoplasms are usually present in a specific location. They don't spread to other parts of the body and generally don't affect the nearby tissue. Although, if the growth becomes large enough, it can affect your health.

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    Melanocytic Nevi

    Melanocytic nevi is a type of benign neoplasm that usually occurs on the skin. It appears as a skin lesion or mole. This type of neoplasm consists of melanocytes, which are the cells in the skin responsible for producing pigment. Normally, these cells don't bunch together. When they do, darkened blotches may appear on the skin. Most melanocytic nevi develop during childhood, but this type of abnormal growth can also occur later in life if the skin is damaged.

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    Potential Causes

    Melanocytic nevi and neoplasms as a whole generally have some genetic component to their development. Also, there are environmental factors which may contribute to the onset of neoplasms. For melanocytic nevi, ultraviolet radiation may play a part in its development. Several types of injuries to the skin may also cause melanocytic nevi, including second degree burns and severe sunburns. Another potential cause is the presence of genetic diseases that damage the skin, such as epidermolysis bullosa.

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    Self Exams and Prevention

    It's a good idea to examine your body for signs of unusual growths. When you notice one, track its progress over time. Doctors recommend using the ABCDE scale to describe new growths.

    • A - Describe the asymmetry of the growth.
    • B - Describe the border of the growth and how irregular it is.
    • C - Describe the color of the growth.
    • D - Describe the diameter of the growth.
    • E - Describe the evolution of the growth.

    Since ultraviolet radiation is a potential cause of melanocytic nevi, it's a good idea to wear sunscreen lotion that is designed to block UV rays when out in the sun.

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    Treatment Options

    The treatment options for melanocytic nevi and neoplasms vary. For melanocytic nevi, medications are not used since the condition is not cancerous. Instead, removal of the growth through surgery is the primary treatment option. The main reason for surgery is to improve the appearance of the skin, but in cases where the size of the growth becomes unhealthy, it will be removed for medical reasons. Cancerous neoplasms are treated with several types of medications, radiation, chemotherapy or surgery, depending on the type of cancer and whether or not it has spread.

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    Reference

    1. "Neoplasm." Encyclopedia.com http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/neoplasm.aspx

    2. "Neoplasm Definition." MedicineNet http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=4526

    3. "Melanocytic Nevi." eMedicine http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1058445-overview