Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Skin Cancer Story—the results

This is the continuation of The importance of regular mole checks: a small “dot” can turn into a one inch scar!—my skin cancer story.

The pathology report came back from the mole biopsy I had last month suggesting further investigation was necessary. Reading dermatology reports on the Internet, in my particular case and pathology reading, some dermatologists excised (removing a skin cancer along with some of the healthy skin tissue around it—the margin) and some did not. In my case, since the mole could potentially turn into melanoma, the deadliest of skin cancers, I didn’t want to risk it. I took my doctor’s advice and had the mole excised.

What does it mean to have a mole excised? It means that I went back into my dermatologist’s office a few weeks after the initial biopsy and he made close to a one inch incision on my neck then scooped out more tissue for testing, making sure all the questionable cells were removed.

The incision soon after the mole removal.

It is pretty unbelievable that literally a dot of a mole turned into a good inch-long scar on my neck. I was prepared there would be stitches, I know they have to make a bigger incision than you’d expect, but I have to admit when I asked to see where the doctor had drawn the cut mark on my neck, it was a bit of a shock. Thank goodness this wasn’t on my face!

I have said to my clients for years that it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to getting funny-looking moles checked by a dermatologist. The longer you wait, the more potential there is that you will be sporting a large scar if you have to have a mole (cancer or precancer) removed. Here, with my tiny mole, I will be left with a rather large scar on my neck—for the rest of my life. I take this willingly vs. the alternative. 

Make an appointment now with your dermatologist if you haven’t been in a year or more (or ever). Get a full-body mole check, and know you are doing yourself a huge favor in the process. You might be surprised to find out something needs to be removed.

UPDATE: 12/2014
The scar on my neck has of course healed and is visible, for sure. But every time I look at it I think about the future possibility: melanoma. So for me the scar is a happy reminder of a positive outcome. Plus—I’m intrigued by scars; each and every one has a unique story to tell. One hundred percent of the time I will take a scar over the alternative.

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