A term which is confusing to patients, dermatologists, pathologists and dermatopathologists, as it is a victim of Humpty-Dumpty etymology*. Some pathologists err on the side of caution and call any melanocytic lesion, however banal, dysplastic if it has a hint of atypia. Other pathologists reserve the adjective dysplastic for a lesion which is morphologically ugly and looks like it’s capable of jumping off the glass slide and biting off the closest body part. In the common parlance, dysplastic nevus is regarded as a benign acquired melanocytic nevus.
*“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” Carroll L. Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. Philadelphia: Henry Altemus Co; 1897. The late great Bernard Ackerman railed vociferously against the widespread and indiscriminate use of the term dysplastic nevus and is surely turning in his grave, knowing that it is still broadly used as a wastepaper basket and a weasel term for litigation-anxious pathologists who want to cover for the possibility of a future melanoma. The term dysplastic nevus is unlikely to disappear.
Synonyms Agminated atypical dysplastic nevus, dysplastic nevus with a congenital pattern, dysplastic halo nevus, dysplastic neuronevus, dysplastic Spitz’s nevus, intraepithelial melanocytic neoplasia, pleomorphic nevus, prognostically indeterminate nevomelanomatoid proliferation