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Melanoma vs. Dysplastic Nevi: How to Tell them Apart to Save your Life

Skin cancer has always seemed like something so far-fetched and not so life-threatening, so it’s easy for most of us to just brush it off. This is especially evident in the fact that a lot of people only wear sunscreen when they’re at the beach. That a lot of men also readily take off their shirts when they feel hot is yet another proof that they aren’t very particular with their skin. After all, what can a few harmless moles and sunburn do?

This is where the problems lie. With no one taking dysplastic nevi and melanoma as problems, they are usually ignored, that is, until they start growing and taking a bigger toll on the skin and health.

It is for these very reasons that Speclipse came up with the Spectra-Scope®—in an attempt to make people care more about the lurking dangers of melanoma and skin cancer in every spot on your skin.

But first: Here's what you need to know about these spots!

Dysplastic nevi and melanoma may look very similar, but the truth is, they are quite different. That is not to say that you can easily tell them apart, whether it is in terms of size, color, shape, and surface texture. However, it is easy to stop ignoring a spot and start getting appropriately worried for your skin. After all, being worried about your spots can sometimes make a difference between life and death. It is particularly true for melanoma, as the time of diagnosis can have a drastic effect on how deadly it can be. There's a good reason why early diagnosis of melanoma is important.

What are the tell-tale differences between dysplastic nevi and melanoma?

Dysplastic nevi and melanoma are like two sides of the same coin. They are similar and different at the same time, though unlike a coin, a close inspection with the naked eye may probably be insufficient if you want to tell them apart.

Dysplastic Nevus

Also known as atypical moles, dysplastic nevi are essentially bigger moles (over 5 millimeters in diameter) with irregular edges and flat and smooth, slightly scaly, or pebbly surfaces. Unlike common moles, however, dysplastic nevus comes with a bit of a risk and should be monitored because it could turn to melanoma when it changes in either size, shape, or color.

To know more about the risks that comes with neglected dysplastic nevi, read Can a common mole or dysplastic nevus become melanoma?


Melanoma is a potentially dangerous, albeit not-so-common type of skin cancer. It may originate from either common moles (melanocytes), atypical moles (dysplastic nevi), or even normal skin. What makes melanoma quite threatening is that when left untreated for too long, it can spread to surrounding tissues and other parts of the body, including the lungs, liver, bones, or brain. Melanoma also sometimes grows back even after excision, unlike common moles or dysplastic nevi.

Since melanoma can develop in anyone, but even more so for people with dysplastic nevi or those with over 50 common moles, it is important to watch out for them, by taking a regular inventory of the spots in your body using this self-assessment guide.

More information about the differences between common moles, dysplastic nevi, and melanoma are also summarized below:

Melanoma may be hard for non-medical practitioners to explicitly identify. Just to be on the safe side, feel free to pay your doctor a visit when you see any of these signs.

What to do next after finding spots that suspiciously look like melanoma?

When you notice any of these changes anywhere on your skin, experts suggest telling your doctor or dermatologist about it. Dermatologists specialize in diseases of the skin so they may be able to recommend the next steps for you, though some family doctors also have special training in moles and melanoma.

Naturally, if you are hesitant about undergoing confirmatory biopsies, since it hurts and would most likely leave a scar, you can always have it checked out in clinics where Spectra-Scope® is being used.

Spectra-Scope® is a diagnostic tool used by clinicians for a fast, accurate, and scar-free skin cancer diagnosis. It is commonly used as a second confirmatory test, prior to the dreaded biopsy.

If you wish to find out how Spectra-Scope® can help, then read about how it works here.




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