When was the last time you looked at your back? I know you can see your face and your arms. You can probably see the back of your legs. You would notice if a mole started to change.
I look at my skin regularly, ever since I found a cancerous mole on the back of my left leg last year. I had forgotten to look at my back.
Last week I was at the dermatologists getting my six month annual check up. The doctor was looking for moles that didn’t pass their ABC’s.
The ABC Rule Test
Each letter represents an abnormal characteristic.
Asymmetry: In skin cancer, spots are not the same on both sides.
Border: The edges of an irregular mole are uneven, or blurry.
Color: Normal moles have a uniform color. Abnormal moles have more than one color or shade, or are darker than the rest.
Diameter: A mole that is larger than 1/4 inch is considered abnormal.
Evolving: Refers to any changes in a moles symmetry, borders or colors.
The Mayo Clinic has photographs of cancerous moles here.
While I waited for the doctor, in my blue cotton gown that opened in the back, I took photographs of my back with my camera. There were two ugly ducklings on my back. The borders were regular, but the color was darker than the other moles on my back.
The doctor removed two Ugly Ducklings from my back, and one Ugly Duckling from the back of my right leg.
The nurse called yesterday to tell me the biopsy results.
One mole on my back was normal. The other mole on my back and on my leg were Moderately Abnormal. The moles weren’t cancerous, but the cells in the mole were starting to go rogue. The cells were starting to behave abnormally.
The dermatologist recommended I schedule surgery to remove more of the skin, a small excision with stitches. The remaining cells may continue to change hidden from sight. The skin needs to be cut out to get clear margins.
I had melanoma last year on the back of my left leg. The scar has healed.
The fear of skin cancer has not gone away.
I am a potato.
The bad parts are gouged out.
I am a rag doll.
I am taken apart and stitched back together.
Thursday March 21st, 2013 at 11:15a.m. I will be a potato. The bad parts will be cut out. I will be a rag doll and get stitched back together. The black stitches will pull the skin and pucker it.
Please look at your skin. You may have an ugly duckling.
Look at your skin for any moles that are asymmetrical, have irregular borders, are not uniform in color, are larger than 1/4 inch, or are evolving.
Finding and removing an Ugly Ducking could save your life.
At least once a year you should stand in a board-certified dermatologist’s examination room in a cotton robe that opens in the back, and get your moles and skin looked at. Especially if you tan or have changing moles.
Will you look at your skin today? If you find something, please make an appointment with your doctor.