Natural history of common acquired nevi. Ordinary moles begin as uniformly tan or brown macules, 1 to 2 mm in diameter (a), expand to a larger macule (b), progress to a pigmented papule that may be minimally (c) or obviously (d) elevated above the surface of the skin, and terminate as a pink or flesh-colored papule (e). These lesions are junctional (a,b), compound (c,d), and dermal (e) nevi, respectively. Note their smooth borders and clear demarcation from the surrounding skin. Nevus, also known as a mole, is the medical term for sharply circumscribed and chronic lesions of the skin or mucosa. These lesions are commonly named birthmarks or beauty marks. Nevi are benign by definition. However, 25% of malignant melanomas (a skin cancer) arise from pre-existing nevi.
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