Tell me about your melanoma

I went to the dermatologist Wednesday to talk about something on my elbow and offhand showed her what I thought to be a spider vein on the inside of my ankle. She was horrified and took a biopsy (and now I can’t stop thinking about the aunt in My Big Fat Greek Wedding). Anyway, if it’s a melanoma it’ll obviously have to come off, so I’ll temporarily lose most of the skin on the inside of my ankle. So…dopers who’ve had to have a melanoma removed, tell me all about it. Despite the anesthesia for the biopsy I felt most of the cutting, so I’m hoping it’s not a melanoma for a few reasons.

Ugh. I’m not my body’s biggest fan right now. But it could be lots worse.

I had a melanoma removed in January. It was potentially very serious, but thankfully it was determined that it hadn’t spread to my lymph nodes. Ironically, the lymph node excision site (in my arm pit) took longer to get back to normal (i.e., not painful) than the surgery site.

It was a long four months between diagnosis and surgery. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that your result is as favorable.

The details are kind of gross, so I don’t really want to go into detail here, but if you’d like to PM me at some point, feel free.

I’m sure Typo Knig will pop in here at some point. He had a mole removed about 7ish years ago that turned out to be “stage zero” (as in VERY early). He’d been going to a dermatologist annually because an uncle had some kind of skin cancer (not M), and a co-worker had also, and he tends to sprout a lot of moles.

So this one year he spotted one on his arm that looked a little wonky (violated the ABCDEF rules… I forget what they all are but it’s things like Diameter, Color, and Funny-looking). Got the call 2ish weeks later saying “suprise!”. He had to go back and have a larger chunk of the arm taken out - not huge, I’d guess it was roughly the area of a nickel, maybe less, and roughly football-shaped. This was to ensure clear margins - the doctor didn’t take a huge chunk the first time because it was just a removal / biopsy. It was done in-office, with local anesthetic, with me in the room (looking the OPPOSITE WAY, oh hell yeah).

He now sees the dermatologist twice a year. He’s had a few more moles harvested but he’s never had another one turn bad.

On the “felt most of the cutting”, :eek::mad: The doctor should have stopped, and done a better job of anesthetizing you.

My story’s remarkably similar to Typo Knig’s.

I had a suspicious mole which my doctor biopsied (in office, no anesthetic). When the results showed melanoma, she sent me to a plastic surgeon (an out-patient appointment at a local hospital) to have the mole removed. He gave me a local anesthetic (I felt pressure from the cutting and stitching, but no pain), removed about a nickel-sized portion of my skin, gave me a few stitches, and sent me on my way. My doctor took my stitches out 2 weeks later. Testing on the removed skin showed that the melanoma was stage 0 (“in situ”, they called it), and had been entirely removed.

During a regular dermatologist appointment (every 6 months, thanks to my history), the dermatologist noticed a suspicious mole. We agreed it was better to remove it, so his assistant (seriously, I have no idea what her credentials or qualifications were) came in and did the same thing the plastic surgeon had done for me previously. The only difference is that it was considerably faster than the first time had been … again, stitches that they took out two weeks later.
I think the moral of these stories is that early detection is crucial.

I had a superficial melanoma removed from my shoulder about ten years ago. The only lasting effect is an annual visit to a dermatologist.

I’ve had three “in situ” melanomas excised. I had couple of small ones (smaller than a grain of rice) on my back and bicep, and a larger one cut out of my cheek. They were all “outpatient” Mohs procedures, and all had clean margins on the first attempt. The one on my cheek required some plastic surgery, which was done extremely well–even when I tell people, they still can’t see the scar.

I’m on an annual schedule with my dermatologist now. I’ve checked out okay for the last 4 years, but I know to keep a close eye on anything that looks even remotely suspicious.

I’ve had one small in situ melanoma removed from my upper right arm (wonky mole). It was caught during one of my twice a year dermotologist appointments (I’ve had quite a few basal cell lesions removed from my shoulders, back, neck and even the top of one ear over the years). I felt some pressure and had a couple of stitches but relatively little pain (the only one that actually hurt much was the one on the top of my ear). My dad has had some painful removals, but mostly over bony parts like the top of his (bald) head, tops of his ears and nose.

Taking the precautions of baby block with a high enough factor to withstand nuclear holocost, broad brimmed hats and lightweight, long sleeve shirts when I’m out in the sun (unlike working on the truck farm and being out on the lake as a kid) has helped to keep them from making as frequent appearance in the last couple of years, I’m pretty religious about regular dermo checkups though.

Yep, Typo is pretty religious about the sunblock. We have a photo of him when we did a half-day rafting trip on the Colorado River a couple of years ago. He’s wearing such a thick layer of sun that it affected the reflections of his skin - he looked fine to me, but in the photo he’s literally BLUE. Pale blue, but still noticeably azure.

Yup, I looked like I was trying out for Azure Man Group :smiley:

Other melanoma threads I’ve contributed to:

[thread=399366]2006[/thread] [thread=507754]2009[/thread] [thread=529850]another 2009[/thread] and [thread=597278]2011[/thread]

Much good information on the Dope about this. PM me if you want to talk privately.

Are you the one that posted a neat series of photos of your surgery?

Thanks for all the responses so far - they’re very reassuring. I know I’m being a baby about this, but dammit - that biopsy hurt! Oh, yeah, and the thought of skin cancer isn’t pleasant, either.

Mama Zappa, unfortunately I don’t have the best history with anesthesia. I’ve woken up during surgery before and typically when given a local can feel part of what’s going on. It sucks, so anytime I have to have any sort of cutting or digging, I get very, very nervous.

It probably doesn’t help that it’s on my ankle bone - it’s directly opposite where I got a tattoo on the other ankle in college, and that thing hurt like hell. I imagine that if they have to cut it away I’d have a scar roughly 1.5 inches long, .75 inches wide.

In the early 2000s my spouse requested a referral to a dermatologist to take a look at the moles on her back. She started to have them removed over time and biopsied, all negative. I was encouraged to do the same for the few I had on my torso and all came back negative as well - except for one. Odd-shaped and dark, on my chest where my chin would touch so hard to see without a mirror. Biopsy came back positive for melanoma stage 1, referred to surgeon. He looked me in the eye and with lazer percision said these words that I will never forget - “You have melanoma, if you don’t take care of this now it can and will kill you”. As if I needed any convincing.

Surgery took out a divot from my chest - the margin as mentioned above - to ensure no cancer cells were left behind. He got it all, and I now see the dermatologist twice a year - she is aggressive with the moles and has no hesitation about removing them.

I encourage everyone to get an exam by a dermatilogist and not a general doctor, who, in my case dismissed the moles as “normal”. If you see something unusual on your skin go have it looked at by a pro. You can check yourself only so far, so have your SO look at areas that are hard for you to see, like your scalp, back, etc. Hey, it could lead to a naughty encounter! The point is, do not wait - the early detection is pretty good at preserving lives with this type of cancer. I don’t really consider myself a cancer survivor, however.

I wish you the best with this!

Overlyverbose, I have to go to the Melanoma Clinic (or equivalent) every six months. Celtic skin and Australian heat is not a good mix.

I have had numerous sunspots burnt off- by numerous, I would get up to 70 frozen off at a visit. I have had untold skin surgeries to get rid of BCC’s and SCC’s.

Probably the most painful was when I had my bottom lip frozen off (no numbing).

At the end of the day, I am not sorry I had any of it done. Already this year I have had two surgical procedures to remove suspected spots.

I don’t BLAME you. I’ve never woken up during surgery, but local anesthesia doesn’t work too well for me either (leading to a lifelong and well-earned terror of dentists).

If you do have to have more work done, it might be in more than an office setting, as in you could have something more regional, and/or an oral or IV sedative of some sort. I’ve personally found that adding nitrous oxide to the mix for dental work is a HUGE help, but I haven’t heard that this is used much for other procedures.

I suspect this is the chap you’re remembering.

re: surgery photos–When I had the melanoma on my cheek excised, I went back the next day for the plastic surgery. The surgeon held up a mirror and wanted me to look at the bloody scoop left over from the previous day’s Mohs procedure. I respectfully declined a live viewing of the hole in my face. The surgeon said it was his policy to let patients see the “before” condition so that they could judge his work afterwards. I still declined, so he settled for showing me a Polaroid of my cheek with the missing scoop. I took a extremely brief glance, saw a bloody hole, and said “okay, go ahead…”

And, as far as being a cancer survivor goes, I think I (and everyone else who has had melanomas excised) qualify. If left untreated, those suspicious spots could very easily lead to death. All it takes is one of those cells to get up and decide to live somewhere else in your body.

Any update? You should have heard by now if it was melanoma.

I just heard back today - it’s NOT a melanoma! They want to monitor it anyway, just in case, but it could be worse.

Whew! I am happy for you!


But it still wouldn’t be a bad idea to take the recommended precautions and see the derm once or twice a year. :slight_smile: