Skin Cancer Scare

by Elizabeth on May 30, 2012 · 6 comments

in health information, life

You know those things that are only supposed to happen when you get older, like wrinkles or hearing your mother’s voice come out of your mouth?  I always put skin cancer in that category too.  My family has a terrible history of skin cancer, so I’ve always been careful about spending too much time in the sun and wearing lots of sunscreen, but I never really worried about my moles and such.  I go to the dermatologist for a yearly body scan like I’m supposed to, but never expected the doctor to find anything.

Until my last appointment.

As my dermatologist was carefully going over everything and comparing it to the pictures she took last year, she noticed a mole that looked irregular.  She didn’t have a picture of it in my file, so she considered it suspicious.  My options were to have her take it off right then and send it to the lab to be tested, or wait three months and check it again.  I choose to be play it safe and have her remove it.

I’m glad I did because four days later the nurse called me with the results: the mole was pre-cancerous.

How did this happen you may ask?  How did I not notice a mole that looked funny?  Because it was in a really weird place on my leg that I couldn’t see unless I was a contortionist.  I didn’t even know I had a mole there.  Oops.  So the lesson here is to know where all your moles are, even the oddly placed ones and check them frequently, or have someone help you.

Since swimsuit season is upon us, I thought this was a great opportunity to remind you all of what skin cancers look like and how to prevent them.

Can you match these pictures to the right type of spot? Don’t you just love games? 🙂 (Answers below)

Five things you can do to help prevent skin cancer:

1. Avoid known cancer risk factors such as smoking, being overweight, and lack of exercise
2. Avoid UV radiation including long periods in the sun or the tanning bed (if you’re still tanning, I’m judging you)
3. Wear sunscreen all the time, especially on the face, and reapply often
4. Check your body periodically and look for any changes.  This ACS guide is very helpful.
5. Make an appointment with a dermatologist to set a baseline.  If you’re at risk for skin cancer (fair skin, family history), my doctor suggested getting checked out by a doctor every year.  Talk to your doctor to see how often you should see him or her.

For more details and information on skin cancer and prevention, visit the American Cancer Society.

Answers: A(2), B(3), C(1), D(5), E(4)

-Photos from Glamour Magazine 

 

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Megg May 30, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Geoff’s mom has had a lot of pre-cancerous moles removed 🙁 Luckily they were caught early, like yours. At some point, when you have another person in your life, you can also have them look over your back. I check Geoff’s routinely, and I have an old family friend who used to circle the suspicious moles on her husband’s back.

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2 Amber May 31, 2012 at 7:18 am

I had my first ever skin cancer check last Tuesday and the doctor removed 2 moles and I’m still waiting on the results. Fingers crossed that they’re okay!

Crazy what a flippin’ mole can do.

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3 Cate May 31, 2012 at 8:19 am

Oh no! That’s so great that your dermatologist was able to take care of it. How scary.

I’m very fair-skinned and while I’ve never really tried to get a tan, I’ve had a lot of bad sunburns, especially when I was young. I now wear SPF 15 on my face at all times, wear sunscreen on my body when I’m going to be out for long, and wear a straw hat in the sun. I should really probably start seeing a dermatologist just in case.

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4 Elizabeth May 31, 2012 at 10:27 am

Or at least have your primary care doctor look you over and check your moles and freckles. (S)he can always refer you to a derm if it’s deemed necessary.

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5 Elisa May 31, 2012 at 11:05 am

The skin cream I use has SPF 15 in it. Although pricey, Clarins has a nice sun screen for the face. It’s quite light so you don’t really feel it–great for all skin types!

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6 Megan C. Stroup May 31, 2012 at 11:24 am

So glad they found it! And thanks for sharing; hopefully this post will convince more people to get checked regularly. Speaking of which, I should make an appointment soon. 🙂

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