• Checking Moles

    Asked by clhennessy on Monday, March 18, 2013

    Checking Moles

    Hi Everyone,

    I was just recently diagnosed with melanoma, and hopefully caught it early enough. Ever since then, I have been paying a lot more attention to my skin. The dermatologist gave me the ABCs of skin checking, but I'm still not certain that I really know, what exactly I'm looking for. For example, one mole has unusual borders but the doctor didn't say anything about it. Two other moles are two different shades, but again the doctor didn't mention them. How do you go about checking your moles without getting too nervous, but at the same time knowing when to bring it to your doctor's attention? I don't want to be a hypochondriac, but I also know that melanoma is nothing to play around with. As an extra piece of information, I do have to follow up every three months now, so do I just wait and ask about those moles at the next visit? Thank you so much!!

    4 Answers from the Community

    4 answers
    • AlizaMLS's Avatar

      Dear Clhennessy,

      Hi! I'm Aliza, a BC patient and also a Medical Librarian (retired). I still however do research and referrals for people here on this site and elsewhere. My late mother also had a melanoma on her hand that they caught early and removed-no other therapy necessary! She died years later from a Cerebral Hemorrhage. My late father had CLL and died from that in 2009 after 6 years of that, but prior to that he had basal cell carcinoma on his legs and had been having MOHS surgery so I can understand your concerns re skin cancer and I myself have a full body check at my dermatologist once a year. I have an age spot on my hand that I keep an eye on as well.

      If you use the available search engines - Bing, Google, Google Chrome, and search how to check for melanoma, you'll find reasonable guides for doing exactly that, but I checked around and came up with something a little out of the ordinary which might appeal to you and that's an app which you can use with your smartphone to help you figure out if a particular mole is a melanoma, The URL for it is: http://www.melapp.net/

      I hope you find it helpful. I'm curious to know what others who've had the disease themselves will have to say. I see my dermatologist for a few other conditions several times a year so I don't just go for a screening.

      Wishing you well,

      over 3 years ago
    • Dick_K's Avatar

      Hi clhennessy, So very sorry you have to ask this question but glad it sounds like your melanoma was caught early. It’s a little hard to tell the type of surgery you had from your posted journey. If it was a biopsy, be sure to get a copy of the report for your records. Check on and ask about your Clark and Breslow numbers; they will point toward possible additional surgery - a sentinel lymph node biopsy (SNLB) and a wide local excision (WLE).

      As to your mole question and with all due respect to AlizaMLS, be very wary of smartphone apps. There are a number of very current articles concerning the accuracy of these apps, in 2013 alone. JAMA Dermatology , January 16, 2013, calls out some concerns you need to be aware of.

      It’s good you are having three month follow-up intervals with your dermatologist. Follow the ABCDE rule and ask your dermatologist why there is no concern for certain moles that appear to meet the ABCDE criteria. If you choose to use a smartphone app, I would suggest not relying on it but, pictures of your body could help identify new or changing moles. Best of luck to you and try not to drive yourself crazy about your moles.

      over 3 years ago
    • Ydnar2xer's Avatar

      Hi. My husband has melanoma and has only had one bad mole removed. It was found about 15 years ago and he hasn't had to have any other treatment other than lx yearly body check ups since then. Our mantra is, "When in doubt, point it out!" There is NOTHING wrong with having a doctor check moles that you may find suspicious. That ABC method is fine, but his initial cancerous mole did NOT fit into any of those ABC categories--I saw it on his back and was in doubt, so he pointed it out to his doc and sure enough, it was malignant. Good luck to you and good for you for taking good care of yourself!

      over 3 years ago
    • Clyde's Avatar

      Best thing is to get comfortable with your naked self in front of the mirror. At first, you will need to take a lot of time checking everything out, but as you get used to it, you will need less and less (We are mostly taught to fear or be ashamed of our bodies unless we look like a super model and the religious freaks who say we should keep covered at all times and never touch ourselves are very wrong about this. How many men died of ball cancer unnecessarily because they were afraid to touch themselves, women who even today won't self exam their breasts, etc., etc.?).

      Three months is a pretty safe time between dermo visits (it has to be a dermo, they are better trained to spot these things) so unless it is changing on a daily basis, you should be fine, but you have to keep an eye on things. And look in places you might not expect. Your scalp, behind your ears, underarms.....all those places we think the sun don't shine are just as liable to show change as the obvious ones. My tumor was a mole (mid-back) that I had had checked many, many times over the years, it always being dismissed as nothing to worry about so I wasn't as vigilant as I should have been when it started to change. My mistake. Every change is important. And even with 3 month visits, if you spot something, point it out. Drs are human and might not see it.

      over 3 years ago

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