Small congenital nevi associated with melanoma: Case reports and considerations

R. Betti, E. Inselvini, R. Vergani, C. Crosti

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Melanocytic nevi, both congenital and acquired, are considered to be precursors of melanomas. Data about the malignant potential of these nevi are conflicting, particularly with reference to the nevus of the smallest size. Patients with preexisting melanocytic nevi (both congenital and acquired) have risks of developing melanoma that differ from those of subjects without them. The purpose of this study was to verify the presence of melanoma in preexisting nevi both congenital (congenital nevus associated melanoma) (CNAM) and acquired (ANAM). In particular, we investigated melanomas associated with small congenital nevi (SCN). A cohort of 190 patients with primary melanomas was studied. Congenital nevi were called 'small' (SCN) when their diameters were less than 1.5 cm. Epiluminescence microscopy (ELM) was performed to further improve the clinical diagnosis and to observe the more subtle changes in the preexisting nevi. Forty of the 190 cases of melanoma were associated with preexisting nevi; of these, 15 had congenital features with a CNAM largest diameter of 1.5 cm. These 15 cases were melanomas of the superficial type with a mean tumor thickness lower than that of ANAM (0.33 vs 1.50). There were no differences between the locations of CNAM and other melanomas. Male patients were significantly more affected. ELM microscopy permitted us to detect the early malignant changes in nevi and thus to improve our diagnosis. A high percentage of small congenital nevi were found to be associated with melanomas. They may be considered as melanomas precursors. Because of their large number and frequency, prophylactic removal of all SCN is not feasible. However, they should be removed as soon as possible when clinical or ELM changes are observed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-590
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dermatology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Acquired melanocytic nevi
  • Congenital melanocytic nevi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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