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30-06-2011 | General practice | Article

Mole changes more likely in children, elderly than middle-aged


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MedWire News: Benign moles are twice as likely to undergo changes in children and the elderly compared with middle-aged adults, Australian study findings suggest.

But these changes are more likely to be benign when they occur in children than when they do in the elderly, say Scott Menzies (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, New South Wales) and co-authors.

As reported in the Archives of Dermatology, Menzies and team analyzed 2497 benign melanocytic lesions in 1765 patients over a period of 2.5-4.5 months, using short-term sequential digital dermascopic imaging (SDDI).

The patients were classified according to age group: children/adolescents (0-18 years; n=115 moles), young adults (19-35 years; n=863 moles), middle-aged adults (36-65 years; n=1388 moles), and elderly adults (>65 years; n=131 moles).

When the team analyzed the proportion of changed moles according to patient age, gender, mole site, and mole diameter, they found that age was the only variable that was significantly associated with mole change.

Specifically, child/ adolescent, young adult, and elderly patients had 2.60-, 1.5- and 2.04-fold higher risks for benign mole change than middle aged individuals, respectively.

However, in childhood, moles changes are more likely to be innocent than in adults or the elderly, say Menzies and team.

Indeed, a positive correlation was noted between the proportion of dysplastic mole changes and age. In all, 35.7% of changed lesions in children and adolescents histologically were identified as dysplastic - a figure that rose steadily with age to reach 75.9% in the elderly.

In a related editorial, Bernard Cohen (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA) wrote: "Using change as a criterion for excising pigmented nevi results in many unnecessary procedures in children and adolescents."

Menzies et al say that they are unsure of the reason for association between age and benign mole change, with the elderly experiencing a higher rate of benign change than other adults.

However, the authors suggest that this may be due to "the hypothesis that dysplastic nevi are more likely to change than nondysplastic lesions."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Lauretta Ihonor

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