The recurrent nevus phenomenon: a history of challenge, controversy, and discovery

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2011 Jul;135(7):842-6. doi: 10.5858/2010-0429-RAR.1.


Context: The diagnosis of recurrent nevus poses a potential challenge to practicing pathologists. Although most recurrent nevi show uniform microscopic findings and pose no great diagnostic difficulty, a few cases exhibit some histopathologic features similar to, and in some cases indistinguishable from, melanoma. Historically, the term pseudomelanoma has been used in the literature to describe such recurrent nevi, although this label has the potential for confusion and is no longer the favored term for recurrent pigmented melanocytic nevi.

Objective: To describe historical, histopathologic, and immunohistochemical features of recurrent pigmented melanocytic nevi and to review briefly the literature surrounding the mechanism of recurrence.

Data sources: Published peer-reviewed literature and the authors' personal experience.

Conclusions: Recognition of the histopathologic pattern of recurrent nevi leads the pathologist to the correct diagnosis in most cases; however, in particularly challenging specimens or in circumstances in which there is insufficient clinical history, immunohistochemical studies have proved helpful in distinguishing recurrent nevi from melanoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Melanoma / metabolism
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Nevus / metabolism
  • Nevus / pathology*
  • Recurrence
  • Skin Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*