Definition: Children may develop a benign (non-cancerous) mole called a Spitz nevus (named for Sophie Spitz, MD, who originally described them in 1948) after they are 18 months of age. As this picture shows, a Spitz nevus is typically under 1 cm in diameter, firm, raised, and pink or reddish-brown. It may be smooth or scaly and usually appears on the face, particularly the cheeks. Spitz nevi (the plural of nevus) are not harmful, but they can be difficult to differentiate from melanoma, even for experts. An excisional biopsy is thus recommended to confirm the diagnosis. Spitz nevi may be removed surgically, although they can regress on their own.
Also Known As: benign juvenile melanoma, nevus of spindle/epitheliod cell type, spindle cell nevus
Alternate Spellings: spitz naevus, spitz nevi
Common Misspellings: spitz nevis, spits nevus