The Dermatologist looked at my skin today as I stood facing the wall in the room at the end of the hallway. All I had on were my glasses and three earrings. Two in my right ear, and one in my left. The back wall of the room had windows which spanned the width of the room, and from the ceiling to a few feet from the floor. The view from the window was the back parking lot, the blinds were closed, twisted to let the light in and the people in the parking lot out.
The Doctor’s assistant looked at the black outlines of a body on my chart comparing moles from my last appointment six months ago to the ones growing on my skin, as the Doctor scanned my skin with focused attention.
Two years ago in February a nurse called from the Dermatologist’s office and told me I had Melanoma, in situ, or stage 0. The cancer was limited to the upper layer of the skin, the epidermis. It was contained. It hadn’t spread. I made an appointment for the next day and had a large piece of skin taken out by a surgeon. Sewn back together with seven stitches.
And since then, I look at my skin in the mirror every time I get out of the shower. Did any of my moles change? Was there an ugly duckling mole? A mole that looks different from the rest?
I didn’t take a photograph of the malignant mole on the back of my left calf two years ago. The mole that went bad. I wish I had. I want a photograph of the enemy.
Today I photographed the moles the doctor cut off. After the doctor left, I asked the nurse to read back to me the scientific description of the moles locations. Mole A: left superior lateral buttock near hip. Mole B: Left inferior hip near lateral buttock.
The enemy has been identified, cataloged and photographed.
I am not worried. I am wary. Cautious. Curious. Are the two pieces of my skin soaking in 10% neutral buffered formalin cancerous?
Do the moles on your body make you suspicious?
There are 5 features that should make you suspicious about a mole and number 5 is the easiest one to miss. (Why do you think number 5 is the easiest one to miss? See the bottom of the post for the reason.)
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.
I know you have a mole you are suspicious of. You have been looking at it for months. I know what you are thinking, because it is what I thought about the mole on the back of my leg. (It was melanoma.) It is probably nothing. I don’t want to appear like a sissy. I don’t have to get it looked at. It is probably nothing. I don’t think you can die from skin cancer. They just slice it off like you do moldy cheese. I am fine. I will do it later.
Now is better than later with a bad mole.
If you have malignant melanoma, the cancer spreads out and down through the layers of skin. It goes through all the layers into your blood stream and into outlying areas and organs.
Skin cancer can kill you.
I didn’t mean to scare you. Well, perhaps I did want to. Scare you that is, just a little. I wanted to scare you enough to get you to call your doctor.
Why take a chance? It’s your life.
Cut off the bad mole before it spreads.
Have you had your skin looked at lately? Please tell me in the comments. I want to encourage you to take care of yourself.
Why is number 5 the easiest one to miss? If you don’t look at your skin regularly you won’t notice any changes.