Risk factors for the prevalence of nevi: a review

  • Leslie K. Dennis
  • Emily White
Part of the Developments in Oncology book series (DION, volume 73)


Melanoma is becoming an important public health problem as incidence rates in many white populations continue to increase. Numerous studies have identified potential risk factors for melanoma [1]. The association of early childhood sun exposures with melanoma supports the importance of ultraviolet exposure in the development of melanoma [2–6]. Nevi, commonly known as moles, may be precursors to melanoma. The evidence for this is based on two types of studies. First, clinical and pathologic evidence suggests that nevi are precursors to melanoma [7]. Patients often report that their melanoma developed at the site of a pre-existing nevus [8,9]. Observation of remnants of dysplastic nevi and other nevi histologically identified in association with melanomas support patient observation [9–13]. Second, epidemiologic studies have shown that the number of nevi is a strong indicator of the risk of developing melanoma [4,14–21]. This finding seems consistent throughout the literature regardless of the method of defining nevi (i.e. by type, size, or location) [22]. Dubin et al. [16] used total body charts for self-assessment of nevus distribution, finding a relative risk of melanoma of 2.0 for 26–100 nevi compared to less than 25 nevi and a relative risk of 3.4 for more than 100 nevi. Swerdlow et al. [21] found relative risks compared to no nevi for melanoma of 4.4 for 10–24 nevi, 8.7 for 25–49 nevi and 63.8 for more than 50 nevi over the whole body. Similarly they found relative risks of 1.7 for 1–9 nevi on the arms and 10.2 for more than 10 nevi on the arms [21]. The association of increasing numbers of nevi with melanoma suggests that nevi are either markers of some exposure that leads to melanoma, potential precursors of melanoma or both [10].


Cutaneous Malignant Melanoma Melanocytic Nevus Dysplastic Nevus Superficial Spreading Melanoma Blond Hair 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leslie K. Dennis
  • Emily White

There are no affiliations available

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