Pathology/Skin pathology


QUESTION: I had an itchy lesion removed from the top of my left ear. The following pathology was reported:

Atypical Compound Melanocytic Nevus-incompletely excised.

I don't understand what that means. Particularly the "Atypical Melacocytic" part. Please clarify. I thought melanocytes were present in all moles and freckles and tans. So I assumed they were benign. Should I get this re-excised?
Thank you

ANSWER: Hello Katherine:

A atypical melanocytic nevus also known as dysplastic nevus is a benign condition. However, it does not have completely normal appearing melanocytes hence the term atypical or dysplastic is used.

Ideally this should be completely excised. Having these increases the risk of developing melanoma, a type of skin cancer. The chances of melanoma are greater with larger number of such moles and family history of melanoma.

You should do monthly self exams to see if any other new moles are appearing, if there is a change in size or shape of existing mole, becomes painful or itchy. Have regular exams done by a dermatologist and use sun protection.

All the best.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your very helpful answer.

May I ask another related one? Are we born will all our melanocyte cells, or do they live and die, like other cells?

I'm asking because, if the melanocyte cell is damaged, does it eventually die and a healthy cell is born. Or do they not die, and that damaged cell has the potential to mutate it's whole life.

Yes we are born with melanocytes, they grow and die. Diseased cells also eventually die but others are formed to replace them. The trigger which causes a cell to become diseases or atypical can transform other normal cells to become abnormal.


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Neha Dahiya MD


Help patients understand the medical terminology of their lab results and / or tissue biopsy reports.


I am a pathologist and director of clinical laboratory services. I have been a practicing pathologist for last 9 years in a 350 bed multi specialty hospital laboratory in India.

Indian association of pathologists and microbiologists.
International Academy of Cytology
International association of Pathologists - Indian division
Indian association of Cytology

MD (pathology) MBA

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