Are Birthmarks & Melanoma Connected?

What do you know about giant nevi?

The words may throw you off, but you may better recognize it as the mole that covers a large part of a baby’s body when they’re born. Malignant melanoma in giant nevi is a rare disease in adults, and there has not been a large volume of knowledge for dermatologists to refer to when it comes to the statistics - but there are some key things you should be aware of.

It is known that when infants are born with these moles, they can be associated with melanoma as you cannot take them off. Being born with giant nevi instantly means that your skin should be monitored closely over your lifetime, and biopsies are needed to catch melanoma early.

The numbers that we do know about are that the mean age for melanoma to occur in these giant nevi is 52 years - being more common in men - and are more aggressive and tend to metastasize more frequently. However, the survival rate is similar to those for melanomas that are not associated with giant nevi, and that is possibly due to the fact that they were monitored more closely and were able to catch it before it spread.

So if you were born with a large birthmark, or know a child who has been - I would encourage you to be vigilant with getting skin exams at the dermatologist and be aware of the heightened risk of melanoma. Given that we do have options to catch it early, I believe people should always take advantage of that and ensure they are cautious.

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