Thursday, April 5, 2012

My Little Follow-Up Appointment

As I’ve written before, I visited the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Road to Healthy Skin Tour kick-off in Raleigh a few weeks ago. (Note…they have GOT to shorten their name!)  After talking with the folks associated with the tour, I went through the free screening.  While the mobile clinic was quite comfortable, it wasn’t as accommodating as a doctor’s office.  However,  Dr. Trakimas did a very thorough job checking me from head to toe.  For the most part everything looked fine, but she found one spot on the back of my right thigh.  It was at a location that was impossible for me to see and even a tad difficult while using a hand mirror.  While Dr. T. thought it was most likely benign, she suggested that I get it shaved and sent to pathology to be on the safe side.  I made an appointment to see her the next week.

I cancelled.

But (before you scream at me)…I scheduled an appointment with my own dermatologist.  I figured having a new set of eyes find suspicious spots on me was a good thing, but before being cut, I’d best get a second opinion, or at least consult with the dermatologist who knows my history best.  When I called to make the appointment, I expected to wait a few weeks.  I was surprised to be scheduled for 7:00AM the next morning!

I felt a little foolish because that the spot really looked like nothing at all.  Yes, it did open my eyes that there are areas on my body that I don’t regularly check, but from the odd mirrored angle, this really looked like nothing at all.  What caused Dr. T to take note was that it appeared different than the surrounding moles. 

So my doc, Dr. J walks in and I explain the situation.  He seemed a bit surprised that I had another screening since I had seen him only 4 months prior, but understood when I explained the circumstances.  I lied down on the table with pants off so that he could get a good look at the spot.  He agreed that it did look different than the others and was worth a closer look.  He suspected it was a “regressing mole”…basically a mole that’s in the process of disappearing.  The mole itself didn’t appear dangerous at all, but the fact that it was changing was the red flag.  (The “E” for Evolving in the ABCDE rule).

Within minutes, I felt that bee-sting of local anesthetic and then the numb tug as he sliced a piece of my flesh.  It was over just before the small talk was about to get real boring.  After redressing, I was handed the “how to care for your intentional skin scrape” paper and told I’d be given a call within a week.

The only bad part about the whole experience was that the cut was right where my leg sits against the edge of the chair at work, so I had a constant itching for two days.  Otherwise, this was not a difficult experience at all.

As for the results?  Negative.  It wasn’t classified a dysplastic nevi…just as a suspicious mole that was fully removed.  I was advised to contact them if any pigmentation returns…after the spot heals of course.

I share this only to let people without melanoma know that it’s not that hard or scary to get checked.  Having an annual screening is important…and if a freebie comes along, it never hurts to have it done again.  Should a suspicious spot be found on you, the process of getting it cut and checked is not bad at all.  My spot turned out to be nothing and the peace of mind was definitely worth the “bee sting” and itching. 

How important is it to get checked?  Three people that participated in that one-day event were found to have spots suspected to be melanoma!  That’s three lives that may be saved from this simple step.  Thank you Dr. T for volunteering and potentially saving lives…and thank you Dr. J for taking good care of my skin.

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