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What is a dysplastic nevus?

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A dysplastic nevus is an atypical mole, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. It is a benign mole, but it looks like a melanoma, which is a type of skin cancer that derives from the pigment producing cells in the skin.

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People who have many dysplastic nevi are at higher risk for melanoma, claims the Skin Cancer Foundation. A person who has 10 or more of these moles has 12 times more risk of contracting melanoma than most people, and some melanomas begin in dysplastic nevi.

Dysplastic nevi seem to have a hereditary component and are found in about 2 to 8 percent of Caucasians, states the Skin Cancer Foundation. If a person with dysplastic nevi also has two or more close relatives who have melanoma, they have a very high chance of getting the disease themselves. People with dysplastic nevi must do regular self-examinations and have regular checks done by a dermatologist or other physician. In some cases, the mole or a piece of it is biopsied. The mole can also be examined under a dermoscope, which reveals structures that can't be seen with the naked eye. People with multiple dysplastic nevi should protect themselves from the sun when they go outdoors.

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