Context.-Melanocytic lesions are common in routine surgical pathology. Although the majority of these lesions can be confidently diagnosed using well-established morphologic criteria, there is a significant subset of lesions that can be diagnostically difficult. These can be a source of anxiety for patients, clinicians, and pathologists, and the potential consequences of a missed diagnosis of melanoma are serious.
Objective.-To provide a practical approach to the diagnosis of melanocytic lesions, including classic problem areas as well as suggestions for common challenges and appropriate incorporation of ancillary molecular techniques.
Data Sources.-Literature search using PubMed and Google Scholar, incorporating numerous search terms relevant to the particular section, combined with contemporaneous texts and lessons from personal experience.
Conclusions.-Although a subset of melanocytic lesions can be diagnostically challenging, the combination of a methodical approach to histologic assessment, knowledge of potential diagnostic pitfalls, opinions from trusted colleagues, and judicious use of ancillary techniques can help the pathologist navigate this difficult area.