The Long?Term Evolution of Melanocytic Nevi Among High?Risk Adults


There is little understanding regarding the long-term natural history of melanocytic nevi among adults.


To describe the long-term natural history of individual nevi located on the torso of high-risk patients.


All patients attending Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) who underwent two total body photography (TBP) sessions 15+ years apart were included (“retrospective” group). To account for a potential selection bias, we also included consecutive patients who had TBP 15+ years ago and consented to undergo follow-up TBP (“prospective” group). We compared baseline and follow-up torso images on the TBPs and evaluated the number of total, new, and disappearing nevi; number of seborrheic keratoses and actinic keratoses; each nevus’ diameter at both time points; each nevus’ color change; the presence of clinical atypia; and when dermoscopy was available, the dermoscopic features at each time point.


106 patients were included in the study. Although the average age of the patients was 40 at baseline TBP, most patients developed new nevi between imaging sessions (median 16.4?years) with an average of 2.6 (SD=4.8) nevi per participant. The average number of disappearing nevi was 0.3 (SD=0.6). In addition, 62/106 (58%) patients had an absolute increase, and 9/106 (8%) patients had an absolute decrease in their total nevus count. Roughly half (49%:1,416/2,890) of the nevi that could be evaluated at both time points increased in diameter by at least 25%. Only 6% (159/2,890) of nevi shrunk in diameter by at least 25%. Patients with a history of melanoma had a higher rate of disappearing nevi, and their nevi were more likely to grow. Most nevi demonstrated no significant dermoscopic changes.


High-risk patients acquire new nevi throughout life with very few nevi disappearing over time. Contrary to prior reports, most nevi in adults increase in diameter, while few nevi shrink.