Every August for the past 4 years I’ve had a skin scan. I have them every 6 months. I’m one of those people who has lots of moles and I had a few bad sunburns as a kid. In August of 2009 I had a melanoma in situ. If you have one, that’s the one that you want. It’s in the top layer of skin. I haven’t had a melanoma since, but anything that seems strange, we get rid of.
For some reason, it’s usually the August skin scan that yields something that is weird. I’ve had three re-excisions and they’ve all been at this time of year. My February scan is usually ok. Last February I was quite excited because I didn’t need to have any moles removed or biopsied. Well, we made up it this time. About 2 weeks ago I had 5 moles removed. My doctor likes to keep the max at five. I think she’s done seven on someone. But five is about as much as she does at a time. Just the mathematics of it didn’t surprise me that I’d have at least one re-excision. But this time, I’m having three.
None are melanoma. “Moderate to severe dysplasia” is the terminology to describe them. The bottom line is that they have to come off and have clear margins. What does that mean for me? Stitches. The doctor cuts out a football shape of skin and then stitches me up. She did two of them today and will do the third on Friday. So far I’m up to 19 stitches. Both sites have 3 internal stitches. One has 7 external and the other six. They’re in places that will be easy to bandage. Right now I’m just taking it easy, taking Tylenol, icing, etc. I can’t do anything strenuous for 2-3 weeks. That’ means I’ll be taking a break from the pool. 😦
This process has become fairly routine for me. By the time I’m done, I’ll have 6 sites that have had re-excisions. Do I have scars? Yes. Are they a big deal? No. I’d rather have scars than cancer. It’s pretty simple when you think of it that way. I can’t figure out any rhyme or reason as to which sites turn into the rogue moles. The places that I’d expect to have a higher chance have been fine. One of my spots this time was a mole that looked pretty regular. But the day I went in for my scan I noticed a darker dot on one side. Sure enough, that’s one that was re-excised today. The big thing is if your moles change.
If you’re someone who has a lot of moles, it’s worth it to get a full body skin scan. Ask your doctor to refer you to a dermatologist. They know what to look for and what is ok. Taking a photo of your moles is also a good idea. You are able to track the changes easier when you have something to compare them to. Since I’ve had more “activity” lately, I’m now having a quarterly check instead of semi-annually. That’s fine. I’d rather be safe than sorry.
So what’s the message here? Wear sunscreen! Looking tan is NOT healthy. Skin cancer is on the rise and it’s deadly. It’s not something where you have a pain someplace and find out it’s skin cancer. It’s a sneaky thing and you’ve got to be diligent about it. Be smart. We know so much more now than we did twenty or thirty years ago. If you’ve got questions about spots on your body, get them checked out. You may have a situation like me where you must have some skin removed. But that’s way better than a diagnosis of skin cancer.