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Thread: Sucked into the melanoma spiral again

  1. #1
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    Feb 2017
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    Sucked into the melanoma spiral again

    I have a lot of anxiety about skin cancer (I know that's pretty common here). This past November I had the dermatologist PA look at a raised red spot on my back. She said it was an angioma, and they normally don't remove those unless they snag on clothing and bleed. I was sort of reluctant, but I've asked them to remove so much other stuff over the past year, I tried to be reasonable and let it go.

    To make things more complicated this spring I had a new little white bump show up on my upper lip near my nose, which the PA said was either an angiofibroma or a mole, and I had it taken off because I felt like the wicked witch of the west with this wart like thing on my lip. Turns out it was a basal cell cancer, and I had to have Mohs surgery afterward.

    This past week I went in for my annual skin check and I had decided beforehand that I wanted this angioma on my back removed, partly because it worried me that it was in a spot where it was hard to monitor it, and also I thought it was kind of gross anyway. The PA said they would send it to pathology just to be on the safe side. They send everything to the pathologist, even if it was only removed at the patient's request - good thing for my basal cell cancer!

    When the PA looked at it, she no longer thought it was an angioma (although she said it could be that after I asked about the previous diagnosis in November). Her list of possibilities to go with the sample for the pathologist were an irritated mole or skin tag. She also added neurofibroma during the biopsy. She said that it didn't look like skin cancer, and she didn't think it was anything serious.

    So now I have the week long wait for results, and I find myself worrying about melanoma. I know the PA said it didn't look like skin cancer, however she was already wrong once before! And why would I have an irritated mole in a spot where I never had a mole before until recently? I'm 44, too old to be getting new moles. I keep trying to remember if it had changed in the last 8 months (I was keeping an eye on it). It didn't seem to look any different width wise, but I'm not sure if maybe it got a little taller? I'm kicking myself for not getting this thing taken off last November, no matter how crazy it made me look.

    I've been so worried I didn't eat anything all day yesterday, and then when I tried to eat something late last night, my stomach was upset. I've been spending all my time googling (yes, I know that is very bad).

    Thanks for listening. I can't tell anyone what I'm going through, and I was hoping that writing it all out here might help.

  2. #2
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    Re: Sucked into the melanoma spiral again

    HI sparky....I "get" everything you've just said here. I am 45, and also just found a basal cell carcinoma that the derm PA passed by on the exam (I pointed it out, after letting it go for a loooong time, but that's another story, and it ended up being BCC). I did have an all body check but, since that experience, I am second guessing everything on my body and also second guessing the quality of the exam. I have booked a second all body check with a new derm, scheduled for Wednesday, and I can't stop thinking about it. I have a lot of stuff on my skin and, while I have concerns about like 8 things, there's a small erythmeous patch on my chest where I had a sun blister years ago that is NOT healing. I have no idea how long it's been there. I often get little bumps there. I squeezed one about 2 weeks ago, and this patch spit out some blood and turned really ugly (to my eyes), and all I can think (since it's not healing) is that it is some weird, atypical presentation of melanoma. Like you, I can barely eat. All told, I've been going through bad health anxiety for about 3 months and have lost 10 lbs!!!! (Silver lining, since I needed to lose it :-) )

    I don't know how to make your wait any easier. Waiting on biopsies is simply the worst. I have gone through that multiple times (at least 9 spots removed over the years, some suspicious for mel), and the worst that's ever turned up is BCC (which I assumed was nodular melanoma since it looked exactly like pics online and nothing at all like a BCC, so lesson is we really shouldn't try and self-diagnose). I hope your results come in fast!!!!! And please update when you get your results!!!!!!

  3. #3
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    Re: Sucked into the melanoma spiral again

    Just to give you some reassurance - as we age we naturally get more moles, sunspots and weird (not dangerous) skin stuff. 45 is not too old to get new stuff and the vast majority is completely and utterly harmless.

  4. #4
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    Re: Sucked into the melanoma spiral again

    Thanks, LeighD and NervUs. You know how they said you have to take life one day at a time? I've found with biopsies and other test results I have to take it 15 minutes at a time. Seriously, I take the whole workday in 15 minute increments, that's all I can handle.

  5. #5
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    Re: Sucked into the melanoma spiral again

    Just got the call back, it was benign! So once again I worried myself sick over nothing. Ironically, I have an appointment tomorrow with a therapist who specializes in health anxiety. I've been waiting several weeks to see her.

    NervUs, please let us know how your appointment goes on Wednesday!

  6. #6
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    Re: Sucked into the melanoma spiral again

    YAY Sparky! That is fantastic news.

    Don't know about you but, after getting the BCC news, I have a hard time believing anything will ever come back benign, plus there are so many misdiagnosis stories all over the web!

    I have one more day to wait. Really want this over already. I will update.

  7. #7
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    Re: Sucked into the melanoma spiral again

    Quote Originally Posted by NervUs View Post
    YAY Sparky! That is fantastic news.

    Don't know about you but, after getting the BCC news, I have a hard time believing anything will ever come back benign, plus there are so many misdiagnosis stories all over the web!

    I have one more day to wait. Really want this over already. I will update.
    BCC is scary because of the word "cancer", but it's really not that dangerous. It's actually pretty common and pretty harmless. Studies have shown that developing these types of cancers don't predispose to melanoma and the two lesions really have nothing to do with one another.

    Some treatments for metastatic melanoma can GIVE you BCC though, which is really weird, really interesting, and really treatable.

  8. #8
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    Re: Sucked into the melanoma spiral again

    I have had BCC, nelly, and I don't agree it's totally harmless. It is harmless if caught early enough, which is often the case and was my case. But, it can also require extensive surgery, often to the face. If unlucky, it can involve scars, skin grafts, reconstruction, and if incredibly unlucky it can get into nerves and bone. The bad scenarios can happen when the lesion has been there for a relatively short period of time. And, since they are often innocuous looking and easily missed, you simply don't know the damage being done underground. The wait to see what you're dealing with and the extent of your surgery plays with the mind, especially when you have anxiety. And, it also recurs at a very high rate and can become a lifelong struggle of staying on top of every little bump. And, it actually is correlated with a higher melanoma incidence, I have read.

    I get that you are trying to make me feel better but, after going through it for what is probably only the first time, I think flobbing off skin cancer as no big thing is the wrong conversation. THere should be some urgency about it. Of course, it is no melanoma. BUt, that doesn't mean it's harmless or nothing...The average length to metastasis from a BCC is 10 years, which I think is flipping short LOL

  9. #9
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    Re: Sucked into the melanoma spiral again

    It isn't so much the BCC itself, as it is the idea that the dermatologist (or derm PA in my case) looked at you and was completely wrong. I'll admit my BCC didn't look like the textbook BCC, but it wasn't that far off. It was new, round, white, tough like a wart, and in a spot where people frequently get BCC. So I'm surprised she didn't suspect it, even though it didn't have the classic central indentation and enlarged blood vessels. It makes you worry that they might miss something else.

    One thing I will say for them, though, they will take off anything that is making me worried if I insist. It's stressful to be trying to make that call, though. With this spot on my back, I was trying to balance not being an idiot and leaving something that was new and didn't match anything else in place versus being a crazy person who wants to have everything that isn't perfectly skin colored and smooth taken off.

    I also ended up with a bad scar from the Mohs surgery. Mine just didn't turn out well. They want to excise the scar and try again, but I'm not convinced they can do any better a second time.

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