Comprehensive Clinical, Histopathologic, and Molecular Analysis and Long-term Follow-up of Patients With Nodal Blue Nevi

Am J Surg Pathol. 2022 Aug 1;46(8):1048-1059. doi: 10.1097/PAS.0000000000001902. Epub 2022 Apr 20.


Blue nevi are benign, melanocytic neoplasms that show a range of clinical and morphologic patterns and include common/dendritic, cellular, and atypical cellular subtypes. Like other nevi, they most commonly occur in skin but can occasionally involve lymph nodes where they may be misinterpreted as representing metastatic melanoma. Moreover, whether benign blue nevi can metastasize to lymph nodes and their natural history and prognostic significance has been the subject of great controversy. To date, few cases of nodal blue nevi have been reported in the literature, and those reports have had limited clinical follow-up and supporting molecular data. This study sought to determine the clinical, pathologic, and molecular features of blue nevi involving lymph nodes, clarify their clinical significance, provide evidence for understanding their pathogenesis, and highlight potential pitfalls in the interpretation of lymph nodes with an ultimate aim of improving patient care. Thirteen cases of blue nevi involving lymph nodes were identified in the archives of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia (1984-2018). A detailed assessment of the clinical and pathologic features of each case was performed, including an evaluation of all available immunohistochemical stains. Extended clinical follow-up was available for 9 patients. Droplet digital polymerase chain reaction for GNAQ Q209L, Q209P and GNA11 Q209L mutations was performed on 7 cases of blue nevi within lymph nodes together with matching cutaneous (presumed primary) blue nevi in 2 cases. All cases showed typical histologic features of blue nevi. BAP1 was retained in all cases (n=7). There were no recurrence or metastasis of blue nevus in any case on long-term clinical follow-up (n=9, median follow-up, 12 y). The majority of cases (n=5 of 7 evaluated) had GNAQ and GNA11 driver mutations. The 2 patients with a matched primary cutaneous blue nevus and regionally associated nodal blue nevus had the same GNAQ Q209L mutation in both sites in each patient. We conclude that blue nevi can involve lymph nodes and are associated with benign clinical behavior, and probably represent so-called "benign" metastasis. Awareness of these lesions is important when evaluating lymph nodes to avoid misdiagnosis as metastatic melanoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Melanoma* / pathology
  • Nevus* / pathology
  • Nevus, Blue* / genetics
  • Nevus, Blue* / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms* / pathology