So the dermatologist (I see her every year for exactly this reason) biopsied one of my moles a couple weeks ago. And it came back as precancerous. I've been through that much before, it's why I see the dermo (at a minimum) annually. What's new is that this is the first time the biopsy didn't catch it all so I have to go back to their surgeon. So I get to spend the entire week waiting for a phone call.
In other news, the biopsy site still has a big ol' scab over it (which is normal, as there were no stitches). And it ITCHES. And it's on my BACK. Why does it gotta be on my back? (The answer to that: so you can't scratch
it, Neb, you dumbass.)
Anyway, it's PSA o'clock for all of you who're reading this. Know your skin
. Nearly everybody has some spots, and it's important to know where they are and what they're like.
The warning signs, keeping in mind that I am Not A Doctor Myself, nor do I play one on TV:A
symmetry - It may not be perfectly round, but it should be fairly symmetrical. Oval is cool. Blob-shaped is right out.B
order - The border on any moles and the like should be uniformly well-defined. If it's fuzzy, if it's uneven, if it looks like someone broke an egg yolk and now it's spilling everywhere, see a doctor. (If you have no previous personal or family history of skin cancer, you may be able to get away with seeing your GP; otherwise, see a dermatologist.)C
olor - Each of your moles should be uniform in color. If it's more than one color, see a doctor. If it takes on a bluish hue, see a doctor. If you have several moles in one part of your body and one of them is colored differently than the others, keep an extra-close eye on it.D
iameter - If it's wider than 6mm (the eraser at the end of your pencil), see a doctor.E
volution - This is the big one. If any of the above traits changes over time, see a doctor.
Full stop, end of story.
Melanoma (not the most common form of skin cancer, but the form I personally am most likely to develop) has a 95% cure rate (that's not remission, that's cure
) if it's caught and removed early, but it's nearly impossible to get rid of once it spreads. The good thing about skin is that it's nearly 100% visible, so it can be very easy to catch nasty things early, so long as you know what to look for.
Oh, and wear some damn sunscreen if you're going outside. SPF 15-30 is good for most people, but use a higher one if you're very prone to burning or are otherwise at high risk. (With anything higher than 60, you get diminishing returns, but I use 75 because between my personal history and my city's altitude it's just a good idea for me.) Use more sunscreen than you think you need. Reapply it often, especially if you've been exercising.
For more information (from actual professionals, even!): http://www.skincancer.org/