Junctional Nevus and Early Melanoma on Sun-Damaged Skin of the Head/Neck: a Clinico-Pathologic Challenge.

Moscarella E, Guitera P, Scolyer RA, Rocha L, Thomas L, Ronchi A, Scharf C, Brancaccio G, Argenziano G. Dermatol Pract Concept. 2023 Mar 22;13(2). doi: 10.5826/dpc.1302a122. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36947065.


Introduction: Melanoma on the head/neck area can show subtle clinical, dermoscopic and histologic features at early stages, being difficult to differentiate from junctional nevi.

Objectives: This case series aims to raise awareness on the topic of misdiagnosis of early lentigo maligna as junctional nevi.

Methods: From the databases of three pigmented lesion clinics in Italy, Australia, and France, we retrieved all cases of lesions of the head/neck area with an initial histopathologic diagnosis of junctional nevus (JN) or dysplastic junctional nevus (DJN) which subsequently recurred and were ultimately diagnosed as melanoma. Moreover, we also retrieved those cases with an initial diagnosis of JN/DJN made on a partial biopsy that were diagnosed as melanoma after complete surgical removal.

Results: Here we report 14 cases in which the initial histologic diagnosis was junctional nevus or dysplastic junctional nevus. The lesions recurred over time with a final diagnosis of lentigo maligna.

Conclusions: Clinicians should critically question a given histologic diagnosis of junctional or dysplastic junctional nevus on the head/neck area if the clinical or dermoscopic features are discordant. Clinico-pathologic correlation is the best way to increase diagnostic accuracy and optimize management for the patient.