An atypical mole is also known as a precancerous mole. These such lesions can undergo a regression.

“Regression is a term applied to lesions that our immune system attacks or treats,” says Erum Ilyas, MD, a board certified dermatologist who performs adult and pediatric medical dermatology, cosmetic dermatology and skin cancer treatment with Schweiger Dermatology Group.

An atypical mole is one that usually looks different from other moles on the person’s body – an odd looking mole, often at least the size of a pencil eraser.

They are also called dysplastic moles or dysplastic nevi. The atypia means that its cells, when compared to those of a typical mole, are more likely to ever become malignant. This does not mean a guaranteed malignancy.

What Is an Atypical Mole with Regression?

Dr. Ilyas says, “Clinically it can appear as though a mole is ‘disappearing.’ This phenomenon can occur for a variety of reasons.

Regressing mole

“At times if a benign mole is irritated or inflamed, our immune system may send out immune cells to the mole to treat it. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s harmful.

“At times regression can appear in atypical moles or melanoma as well. It’s possible that our immune systems recognize the presence of atypical or cancerous cells and attempts to treat or keep these cells in check.

“This is what the work on melanoma vaccines is based on. When an atypical mole has regression, this could be an indication that it is either irritated or inflamed based on its location (often noted for moles that appear under the bra strap).

“Or it may mean that the cells in the mole are atypical to the degree that our immune system is attempting to ‘treat’ it.

“For a benign mole with regression, the indication to remove it would be based on symptoms.

“For an atypical mole with regression, because it would be difficult to say with certainty the reason for regression, it is likely best to remove it.”

Dr. Ilyas is the founder of the AmberNoon line of fashionable sun-protective clothing. 
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


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