Melanoma on congenital melanocytic nevi

Pathol Res Pract. 2024 Apr:256:155262. doi: 10.1016/j.prp.2024.155262. Epub 2024 Mar 11.


Among nevus-associated melanomas, which overall account for 20%-30% of all melanomas, those arising specifically in congenital melanocytic nevi are infrequent, but can be disproportionately frequent in childhood and adolescence. Congenital melanocytic nevi (CMNi) are common benign melanocytic tumors that are present at birth or become apparent in early childhood. They are classified based on the projected adult size. Small and medium-sized CMNi are frequent, whereas large/giant CMNi (over 20 cm in diameter) are rare, but can be associated with high morbidity due to marked aesthetic impairment and the risk of neurocutaneous syndrome or melanoma development. In this setting, melanomas can appear in early childhood and are very aggressive, while the risk of small-medium CMNi of developing melanoma is low and similar to non-congenital melanocytic nevi. Histologically, most melanomas on CMNi initiate their growth at the epidermal-dermal junction, but in large/giant CMNi they can develop entirely in the dermis, in deeper tissues, or in extracutaneous sites (especially in the central nervous system). Most CMNi harbour an NRAS mutation, but other genes are rarely involved, and gene translocations have recently been described. However, no prognostic implications have been associated with the CMN genotype. Melanomas developed on CMNi harbour additional molecular alterations to which the aggressive clinical course of these tumors has been attributed. This review covers the distinctive clinical and pathological aspects of melanomas on CMNi, and includes the epidemiology, etiopathogenesis, clinical and dermoscopic presentation, histological and molecular characteristics, as well as tumour behaviour.

Keywords: Congenital melanocytic nevus; Melanoma; NRAS; Neurocutaneous syndrome; Proliferative nodule.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Melanoma* / genetics
  • Melanoma* / pathology
  • Nevus, Epithelioid and Spindle Cell*
  • Nevus, Pigmented* / genetics
  • Nitroimidazoles*
  • Skin Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms* / pathology


  • 1-methyl-5-chloro-4-nitroimidazole
  • Nitroimidazoles

Supplementary concepts

  • Melanocytic nevus syndrome, congenital