I met my husband just over 7 years ago. The very first time he took his shirt off, I asked him about a mole on his back. Throughout the years I’ve paid close attention, and I’m glad I did. Today he had a small procedure to have it removed, and we are all breathing a little easier.
As of now, the doctor can only call what was taken off a neoplasm (An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Neoplasms may be benign (not cancer), or malignant (cancer). The dermatology office will send his sample off to pathology to be tested for further details.
1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer, and there are 63,000 new cases of melanoma reported each year. There’s a 98% survival rate in those who are treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes, so it’s important to perform frequent skin checks and take preventative measures.
To prevent skin damage limit your sun time in the sun. You’ll also want to use and SPF 30 or higher, and apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. The sun is most damaging between 10AM and 2PM, so avoid direct sunlight during those hours. Most of all, avoid tanning beds! If you’re local, Linsey Bavin of Sun Kissed Spray Tanning does an AMAZING spray tan. She has countless recommendations, plus my friends, family and I have all had great experiences with her! My sister looked flawless on her wedding day, and the bronze really made her dress POP without causing the worry of sun damage. Spray tanning with a professional like Lindsey is a great alternative to traditional tanning.
You’ll also want to keep an eye on any damage that’s already done. Make sure you’re getting your yearly physical exam so your PCP can take a look with professional eyes. Check yourself monthly, and “have your partner’s back” by taking a look at the places your spouse can’t see on themselves. If you see something unusual or changing shape/color make an appointment with your doctor. Remember that if you can spot it, you can stop it.
Be on MOLE PATROL, and know your ABC’s.
This is what you should be looking for on existing moles:
A- asymmetrical (if you draw a line down the middle of the mole, the two halves don’t match.
B- border (is the border uneven, scalloped or textured)
C- color ( color is changing from brown to black, or black to red /white.)
D- diameter (is it getting larger?)
E- evolving (change in size, shape, color, elevation, itching, bleeding or crusting.)
You can keep an eye on these things yourself. To perform a self exam grab a bright light, full length mirror, hand mirror, chair and a blow dryer.
-Start with your face and head using the mirror. Check your scalp by using a blow dryer to easily part your hair.
-Move down to you hands, arms and armpits.
-Use a mirror to focus on neck, chest and torso.
-Have a partner check your backside, or face away from a full length mirror and use a hand mirror to view behind you.
-Sit down and check your legs and feet.
Keep a log of any spots or new freckles. Note their color, size and location.
Congenital moles can go much deeper than what you see on the surface, sometimes requiring more intense surgery. It’s very important that changes in these moles are detected early and examined by a doctor. They may elect to map it (measure its size over a period of time) to document changes before intervention.
Skin checks can detect much more than moles, so they should be done on all members of your family (no matter the age.) We are currently watching a hemangioma on Anna. She was born with it, and it’s getting smaller but we continue to map it. She was also born with a mark around her eye that has lightened, then disappeared with time. Jacen and Arielle have been free of marks, but skin checks have revealed eczema and other conditions over the years. Nothing but good can come from examining and documenting!
I kept an eye on my husband’s mole for 7 years before he finally had his PCP take a look. It only took one visit with a dermatologist to decide it needed to come off, and I can only imagine what would have happened if we continued to wait. I’ve hated that thing since the first day I laid eyes on it, and I’m happy to see it go. Today we are celebrating mole removal day, and being thankful for the health and happiness of our family.
Stay vigilant, stay safe, stay healthy.
Kate and the Kids.