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Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Skin Cancer Story: Please read this!

My hopes in telling this story is to show you how important getting regular mole checks is—especially if you see something new or suspicious—to the health of your skin.

I made an appointment with a dermatologist who came highly recommended. I mainly wanted to establish a relationship with a dermatologist so I would have someone to recommend to my clients when I find moles they should have checked out. I also had a tiny (and I mean tiny) dot of a mole on my neck I wanted looked at.

If you had seen this dot (mole) you wouldn’t think anything of it, but I did. It was new, which is one warning sign of potential skin cancer. It was also almost black, a second sign. This dot just looked like a tiny freckle. It was small. From seeing so many clients over the years and seeing odd places on their skin, I have a pretty good sense of possible problem spots and knew this needed to be looked at.

It was the PA (Physician’s Assistant) who actually examined me; this is a common practice in a dermatologist’s office and perfectly fine. (PAs are highly skilled practitioners.) As it turns out the PA said indeed it was potentially problematic. She recommended either keeping an eye on it and having another look in 3 months or take it off now and have it analyzed. I opted for the latter. Why? Because if it was “something,” she said the something it would be is melanoma, not a less deadly squamous cell or basal cell cancer. So off it goes!

I’m not really concerned because if it turns out to be melanoma, it was removed so early that I don’t believe it will be an issue. And if it is nothing today, it could turn into something some day, and I’m simply not willing to risk it.


My point in sharing this story is to let you know that even the slightest change in a mole can signal cancer or a precancerous growth. In my case the “dot” was new, I probably saw it 2 months ago and realized it was new back then—or at least I didn't remember ever noticing it before. It was also dark, almost black, which is another warning sign. Click here to read about skin cancers and what to look for.

If you aren’t currently seeing a dermatologist or haven’t seen one in a while, I recommend getting a baseline full-body mole check if you are near or over 40, and especially if you’ve had a lot of sun exposure in your lifetime and if you have a lot of moles—no matter your age. Then see your dermatologist annually for mole checks. With the potential for skin cancer, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Please see the continuation of this story:
As well as: