The key difference between melanoma and nevus is that melanoma is a tumor of melanin-forming cells in the skin, while nevus is a benign collection of pigment-producing cells in the epidermis, dermis, or both of the skin.
Melanoma and nevus are two skin conditions. Both these conditions are associated with skin conditions. Benign skin lesions such as nevus can rarely convert to melanoma. Moreover, both these conditions can start from melanocytes or pigment-producing cells. However, melanoma and nevus are two different skin conditions with different aetiologies.
What is Melanoma?
Melanoma is a serious skin cancer. It develops in melanocytes, which produce melanin pigments. Melanoma can also develop within the eyes, albeit rarely occurring in areas such as the nose or throat aside from the skin. Melanoma often develops in areas such as the back, legs, arms, and face that have had exposure to the sun. The exact cause of this condition is not known. However, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight or tanning lamps and beds increases the risk of melanoma. The symptoms of melanoma are a mole that may change in color, a mole that may appear bigger, a mole that may have an irregular shape, an increase in height or asymmetrical, a mole that may develop in a raised area, itching, or bleeding. The risk factors for this condition include fair skin, a history of sunburns, excessive UV light exposure, living close to the equator, having many moles, a family history, and weakened immunity.
Melanoma can be diagnosed through family history, physical examination, and skin biopsy. Furthermore, treatment options for melanoma may include surgery to remove melanoma, surgery to remove affected lymph nodes, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy.
What is Nevus?
Nevus is a medical term to refer to a mole. It is a benign collection of pigment-producing cells in the epidermis, dermis, or both or a circumscribed, chronic lesion of the skin. It can be present at birth or acquired throughout childhood. Moles peak during the third decade. However, most people have them between the ages of 10 to 40. Nevus can be caused by genetic mutation, sun damage, and defects in embryonic development. The risk factors for this condition include exposure to UV radiation, family history, fair skin, age (older children and young adults), and family history. Moreover, the symptoms of nevus may include asymmetric, indistinct, or irregularly bordered, variably colored papules or lesions with a diameter >5 mm, papules that may change in shape or color, pain, severe or persistent itching, bleeding, or crusting.
Nevus can be diagnosed through family history, physical examination, shave biopsy, punch biopsy, and excisional biopsy. Furthermore, nevus is treated through a more extensive surgical removal or Mohs surgery.
What are the Similarities Between Melanoma and Nevus?
- Melanoma and nevus are two associated skin conditions.
- Nevus can rarely convert to melanoma.
- They may have moles that are asymmetrical and change color and shape.
- Both skin conditions have a genetic influence.
- UV exposure increases the risk of both skin conditions.
- Both conditions can be diagnosed through family history, physical examination, and biopsy.
- They can be treated through surgical removal.
What is the Difference Between Melanoma and Nevus?
Melanoma is a tumor of melanin-forming cells in the skin, while nevus is a benign collection of pigment-producing cells in the epidermis, dermis, or both of the skin. Thus, this is the key difference between melanoma and nevus. Furthermore, melanoma is a more dangerous skin condition, while nevus is not a dangerous skin condition.
The infographic below presents the differences between melanoma and nevus in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Melanoma vs Nevus
Skin conditions are medical conditions that affect the skin. Melanoma and nevus are two associated skin conditions. This is because one-third of primary melanomas are associated with nevus. Therefore, nevus is a strong risk factor for developing melanoma. However, melanoma is a serious skin cancer that develops in melanocytes, which produce melanin pigments, while nevus is a benign, circumscribed, chronic lesion made up of a collection of pigment-producing cells in the epidermis, dermis, or both of the skin. So, this summarizes the difference between melanoma and nevus.
1. “Melanoma: Symptoms, Stages, Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention.” Cleveland Clinic.
2. “Nevi – Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment.” BMJ Best Practice US.