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October 1985

The Blind Men and the Elephant: Different Views of Small Congenital Nevi

Author Affiliations

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Division of Surgical Pathology Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania 3400 Spruce St Philadelphia, PA 19104

Arch Dermatol. 1985;121(10):1263-1265. doi:10.1001/archderm.1985.01660100043012

In science, as in nature, much depends on one's point of view. Like the elephant that proved so puzzling to the five blind men who attempted to describe it by touching its parts and found it to resemble a snake, a tree, and so on, a clinicopathologic entity such as a congenital nevus may present several different aspects, depending on the "parts" that one has available for study. These aspects of a congenital nevus might, for present purposes, include its morphology, its demography, and its inherent risk, if any, of progression to a malignant melanoma.

The morphology of congenital nevi is definitively described by Rhodes et al1 in this issue of the Archives. These authors studied a population of cases documented as congenital or acquired nevi by parental questionnaire. They conclude that congenital nevi (including "small" congenital nevi) differ significantly from acquired nevi but that methodologic issues preclude a

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