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NicoleMM 02-12-2005 04:20 PM

Stage 1 Melanoma Question
I have a question about the Stage 1 melanoma that was removed from my back in August 2004 (final excission was Oct 2004). I had a chest x-ray and a blood test done in September, which both came back negative; however, I am wondering if there are any other tests I should have done?

Current strategy with the dermatologist:
1) dr. visits every 3-month for 2 years, and then back to my 6-month visit schedule
2) mapped my moles -- there are 13 "funny" looking ones that she is watching

The first mole I ever had removed was when I was 8 years old. It was a big raised one on my back. Starting around age 14 (I am now 34) I have had biopsies taken nearly every year (I always expected at least one biopsy when I went to the dermatologist) -- most of them have been on my torso; however I have a couple on my arms and legs. Every single biopsy has come back with an a-typical/dysplastic diagnosis -- until the MM diagnosis in August.

I am wondering if I should pro-actively remove the "funny" 13 moles the doctor is watching.

Also, since I live near UCSF, I am wondering if I should find a doctor to see at the Melanoma clinic? Any insights here would be helpful.


BonBe 02-13-2005 02:53 PM

Re: Stage 1 Melanoma Question
Hello Nicole

Well, I think you may be wiser to attend a melanoma clinic as that is what they specialize in. was your melanoma insitu? vigilance is what is key, and the dermatologist will certainly be able to help you with the mole watching. I myself see a derm every 3 months and attend a melanoma clinic every 3 months I was dx'd with a excisional biopsy which told of Stage 2B MM and therefore had a WLE last September, so am relativily new at this.

Some folks have moles removed, that may prove to be active, or they do the wait and watch for changes approach. Either way, talk to your doctor about what is the best for you, and you must decide what is the best for you.

Good that you had the excisonal biopsy done, was it followed with WLE with possible SNB tracer?

There are excellent sites on the net, and you only need to type in Melanoma to find what you need to know. It does help to be informed of whats going on and what options are open to you.


NicoleMM 02-13-2005 07:03 PM

Re: Stage 1 Melanoma Question
Thanks for your message Bonnie!

My melanoma was not insitu. I had a wide WLE (which has left me with a lovely 5 inch scar on my back), but no SNB tracer.

I will continue to search for information about Melanoma on the net.

I will call the Melanoma clinic at UCSF this week!

Thanks again for your response.


Belle2003 02-13-2005 08:30 PM

Re: Stage 1 Melanoma Question
If I had melanoma, instead of BCC, I would want to get rid of those 13 moles in question. I would feel that one of them might be a time bomb waiting to explode. I am sure that the doctors would not want to do this, meaning removing all 13 at once. I would not tell my doctor my ulterior motive to have all 13 moles removed. So I would suggest a couple be removed each time I went in for a visit. I must admit that I am the paranoid type who would like to rest easy with a few scars instead of worrying each time I did my mole check.

My doctor is at Stanford, let us know how you like UCSF.

BonBe 02-14-2005 03:38 AM

Re: Stage 1 Melanoma Question
Good morning

I also had the WLE without SNB (only because my local hospital doesnt have the equiptment for one) but the major cancer hospital in Toronto where I go, is ok with this.... I also and have a slightly larger scar on my mid back (tween shoulders) about 8 inches which at this very moment is being treated for icky keloid problems, using a great product (a silicone gel) I scar badly. Went for my first derm 'body check' and he found two suspicious moles which are due to be excised (NOT SHAVED) and all fingers are crossed.

The thickeness of the previous one, was 4mm which made me go into the stage 11 sector of the scale. Was offered the clinical trials of alpha interrfon but had to deciline due to personal reasons. So my case is watch and see, and when in doubt take it out. I do not mind the scarring at all if it saves my life.

Some people get them all out as Belle states, some do not. if anything CHANGES even a tad it is taken out, but otherwise I guess a mole is a mole is a mole I am not sure on the protocol there. If I had a choice, I would have all things removed as well, but it is not logical as I have so many other things which are not moles. various types of keritois (age related too) and maybe 10 or so real moles which are being watched like a hawk.

Melanoma Patients have many good informative sites, just do a search and hyou shall find them. I belong to a few, and find them so comforting, and did in fact b ring home the seriousness of having MM.

Mom had a BCC removed from her lower leg about 12 years ago, and so far nothing hurray!!! I am her caregiver, on top of being me.... so I must keep my health about me.

You are doing the right thing researching and thank god for the internet and its connections.....

Find the right site for you to learn from it will be worth it.


FL_Trish 02-15-2005 02:56 PM

Re: Stage 1 Melanoma Question
Hi Nicole,

Though it is good that you feel comfortable with your dermatologist, it is still a good idea to see a melanoma expert. Even if they tell you the same things that your dermatologist has said so far, at least it is going to make you feel better having some one else looking at them and they might be able to give more information in regards to the disease than your dermatologist can.
Remember… Being diagnosed with Melanoma means that you were diagnosed and have been treated for Cancer… therefore, a second opinion is always the best way to go.
I had a surgery for melanoma recently. I was fortunate that they were able to remove everything and that the recovery has been painless. But… to tell you the truth, I went to a dermatologist for 3 years to have that mole looked at, and every year the doctor told me it was fine. It was not until I went to another doctor that I found out that the mole had turned into skin cancer.
Now… I am also having check-ups every three months, and when the doctor told me that she was going to keep an eye on 9 moles in total (to make sure there were not going to be changes), I told her that if the previous doctor had done a biopsy on that one mole 3 years ago, I would have had a ¼ inch scar on my leg instead of a 1-1/2 inch diameter graft.
She told me that if it made me feel better, she would remove them. Even if they came out negative, they are going to be fewer moles to worry about.
The insurance only allows to have 5 biopsies at a time, so I just had the first 5 done (all came out negative… wooohooo!!!) and the next 4 will be done in a couple of weeks.
My dermatologist and I now have an agreement on how to treat this… if there is any question about a mole, it will come out immediately.
This makes me feel (and know) that I am in charge of my life. I am being pro-active instead of hoping for the best every 3 months.
Good luck

NicoleMM 02-16-2005 06:46 PM

Re: Stage 1 Melanoma Question
Thanks for your reply Trish.

I have requested some information from UCSF to see if it is the right place for me. I think one of the reasons that I haven't been more proactive about seeking a second opinion (which is out of my character) is because I am in denial that my melanoma is really cancer. I know if sounds odd, but I have a really strong family history of breast and ovarian cancer (grandmother, mom, aunt, and even younger sister) -- but no melanomas. When I told my sister about the diagnosis her response was "it is just skin cancer...". So I felt like I was making a bigger deal out of it than I should have. I guess that I don't feel like I own my diagnosis. Also, I have had so many biopsies done that I kind of feel like this is par for the course. I have so many atypical moles, so I always thought that one day one of them would go bad. The funny thing is that my melanoma was spontaneous, and did not develop from a pre-existing mole. Go figure!

Okay, enough about how I have rationalized all of this. I am hoping that things will work out with UCSF...I think that will give me piece of mind (I hope!)

FL_Trish 02-18-2005 06:42 AM

Re: Stage 1 Melanoma Question
This is so funny that you mention the denial... I think I am still there some times.
When I mention to my friends about my melanoma...
I either get the "good thing is not really cancer... just skin cancer" (even from all my immediate family since there is big history of other types of cancer, but no melanoma)...
Or I get the "Do you remember my friend John Doe (many different people)... he died of melanoma in his 30s"
Two totally different reactions... meanwhile I now have 2 scars that I get to see every day to remind of it... while on the same token, I never felt ill to even acknowledge it to be cancer.
Weird, isn't it?

Good luck and though those 13 moles are nothing to worry about, it is good to be on top of things… mostly when it has to deal with your heath.

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