View Full Version : reasonable response to melanoma fears?

08-28-2008, 10:10 AM
Ok, I've posted here before, several months ago, with a similar question, about a different mole (which is currently not worrying me, as I've been reassured several times that it's normal, and more importantly, it no longer appears to be changing). However, in the course of several derm appointments throughout the year, I've become aware of several areas "to watch", the most worrisome and irregular of which is a mole cluster, about 5 mm in length altogether, which I've had for at least 5 or 10 years and which has not appeared to change in that time. Earlier this year was the first time I'd ever had a dermatologist tell me to keep an eye on this area. Since then, I've had two more dermatologists look at it (yep, I can be a bit of a hypochondriac), and they more or less all told me the same thing, that it doesn't look worrisome now, just to keep an eye on it, since it does look a bit different than the others (irregular borders, a little brown-shaded color variation, none of which I have noticed changing the whole time I've had it). Believe me, if one of them had suggested doing a biopsy just to be safe, I wouldn't have hesitated. Now I'm worrying (and trying not to obsess, but it's hard to do) that I should have insisted on a biopsy. This spot doesn't appear to have changed in the past few months, but the other day, on a whim (probably sparked by worry about another unrelated issue), the thought popped into my head to check the spot again, and when I scratched over it--not vigorously, but firmly--felt it to be slightly raised (whereas it normally feels flat). Another mole about an inch away had the same response. Both these moles remained very slightly raised for several hours afterward, but were back to essentially flat when I woke up the next morning. No apparent lingering redness or tenderness. I don't think I feel any tenderness when pressing firmly on either of these spots, but sometimes in the past couple of days have thought, while doing other things, that I may feel a little tenderness or stiffness in the arm surrounding the spots. However, no pain or tenderness is felt when I actually press on the area, and I have no visible redness or swelling. If I weren't feeling like a huge hypochondriac, I would make an appointment to get the moles checked again, but I should probably mention that I went back to the dermatologist last week to have her recheck another mole that had actually lightened in the past couple of months (which of course she said was nothing to worry about). It didn't even cross my mind to ask her to check any of my other moles again, since I had a full mole check in June. Anyway, I would feel like a real idiot going back in there this or next week for something else, in the absence of definite pain, visible change, bleeding, itching, etc. At this point, in the interest of trying to handle my fears as rationally as I can, as well as in the interest of time and money (and considering that I have several events coming up in the next two weeks which deserve my attention, and may be hampered by unnecessary doctors' appointments, biopsies, etc.), I plan to try to ignore my moles for a week or two, assuming no obvious changes take place before then, and then reconsider seeing the doctor again. At that point, if I feel there have been no real changes to them, I'm thinking it might be prudent of me to wait until the first of the year, at which point it will have been a little over six months since I last had these moles evaluated (at my last appt., the derm. said it would be reasonable for me to come in every six months rather than a year, mainly for reassurance, and because I am in a high-risk group). Does this sound like a reasonable approach, or should I try to see the derm again immediately? Are a few weeks likely to make a difference, in the absence of visible changes? How about a few months? It would help if my derm were willing to return my calls in person and answer questions over the phone to allay fears, but it seems that her office, like most others nowadays, would rather pull you in to the office for a paying appointment than tell you not to worry about it (or wait it out) over the phone. I think patients like me probably make doctors a ton of money, which is one reason I try to curtail doctor's appointments that aren't either totally routine or absolutely necessary. My apologies for the wordy post; any words of wisdom are appreciated.

09-15-2008, 01:35 PM
I believe, for your own sanity and peace of mind, you should make an appointment and have this cluster removed. Don't worry about what the derm thinks about it -- it's your body and you have the right to have that cluster removed! Tell them something just doesn't "feel right" and you'd like to have it sent to pathology just to make sure. I know that my derm is always MORE than willing to remove anything that I'm uncomfortable with! If you don't receive this same reception from your primary derm, then you really need to find a new one.
Good luck! :)

09-16-2008, 06:19 AM
Thanks for your input. Just curious, have you ever had melanoma yourself (or any "near misses")? I've had one skin biopsy done before for a possible cancer, and that one was actually one I let go for 6 months or so (because it wasn't changing and was flesh-colored; if I had read about nodular melanoma at that point I would have been freaked out!). That one turned out to be completely benign; I actually had it removed earlier this year, and that was at the appointment during which my derm mentioned that I needed to watch the cluster in question. I actually moved to another city shortly thereafter, and instead of waiting a year to find a new derm and go again as I had planned, I started worrying about this mole cluster and found several other new or worrisome spots I hadn't noticed before, so used that to justify making another appointment. Anyway, I'm still vacillating between just waiting until the beginning of the year or going now (or as soon as I can get an appointment, if I decide to call). BTW, I'm a Christian too, but it's amazing how often my prayer requests center around fears that may be irrational. I will say that He has allowed me to go a month worrying about this while still feeling no panic and an overall sense of peace somehow (I have, in the past, gone several weeks over a particular fear where I have lost sleep or appetite, etc.--at least this time it's not all-consuming). I thank God that my fears are not constant or life-consuming (every few years it seems I will get really worried about a particular symptom or set of symptoms, and then obsess over it until I have enough "evidence" that I don't need to worry about it, usually after a few months). But I pray for deliverance from any irrational health fears and for an ability to discern when I really need to seek a doctor's advice (and believe me, if I hadn't already seen a derm so many times this year, I'd have already gotten another opinion on this one). One thing that I have definitely learned from this year, however, is to request (and demand, if needed) a biopsy or removal whenever a dermatologist suggests "watching" something. I'm sure some would disagree, but I'd rather know for sure than have even a potential melanoma sit on my skin, just because it doesn't seem to be changing. It isn't worth the worry.