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Spindle cell melanocytic lesions: part II—an approach to intradermal proliferations and horizontally oriented lesions
  1. Shachar Sade,
  2. Ayman Al Habeeb,
  3. Danny Ghazarian
  1. Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Danny Ghazarian, Department of Pathology, Toronto General Hospital, 190 Elizabeth St, Toronto, Ontario M5G 2C4, Canada; Danny.Ghazarian{at}


Melanocytic lesions show great morphological diversity in their architecture and the cytomorphological appearance of their composite cells. Whereas functional melanocytes show a dendritic cytomorphology and territorial isolation, lesional nevomelanocytes and melanoma cells typically show epithelioid, spindled or mixed cytomorphologies, and a range of architectural arrangements. Spindling is common to melanocytic lesions, and may either be a characteristic feature or a divergent appearance. The presence of spindle cells may mask the melanocytic nature of a lesion, and is often disconcerting, either due to its infrequent appearance in a particular lesion or its interpretation as a dedifferentiated phenotype. Spindle cell melanocytic lesions follow the full spectrum of potential biological outcomes, and difficulty may be experienced judging the nature of a lesion due to a lack of consistently reliable features to predict biological behaviour. Over time, recognition of numerous histomorphological features that may portend a more aggressive lesion have been identified; however, the translation of these features into a diagnostic entity requires a gestalt approach. Although most spindle cell melanocytic lesions may reliably be resolved through this standard approach, problem areas do exist for the surgical pathologist or dermatopathologist. With this review (part II of II), we complete our discussion of spindle cell melanocytic lesions, in order to: (1) model a systematic approach to such lesions; and (2) provide familiarity with those melanocytic lesions which either typically or occasionally display a spindled cytomorphology.

  • Melanocytic
  • melanoma
  • spindle cell
  • nevus
  • spitz
  • dermatopathology
  • melanocytic lesions
  • naevi
  • skin

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  • Linked article 075226.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.

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