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  • Cannot stop anxiety over my moles.

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    Old 03-26-2014, 03:31 PM   #1
    Bascha
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    Unhappy Cannot stop anxiety over my moles.

    My nonstop worrying over my moles began a few months ago. I noticed some large-ish reddish brown spots on my scalp. I didn't even think they could be moles, and I made an appt. with a dermatologist assuming he would tell me it was some kind of dermatitis or something similar (I have eczema so the idea wasn't too surprising to me). At my appt. he told me the marks on my scalp were actually moles, and he did a full body check of my other moles. Everything was fine, he said, and I should come back every year for checkups.

    After reading various things on the internet (I know, I know), I began to think a second opinion was in order because I do have a decent amount of what I would consider to be dysplastic or irregular moles on my body, most specifically on my torso and scalp. I went to another dermatologist at the same practice (these are all board-certified), and he also said everything was fine, but he wanted to remove a black mole that was on my back. He said he was 99% sure it was nothing, but wanted to remove it to be sure. So, it was removed and the results came back benign. However, the idea that one derm. said nothing of it and the other wanted to remove it to be safe just struck me as odd and spiked my anxiety over the idea that doctors can make mistakes concerning something that can oftentimes be an objective decision to do a biopsy on a mole.

    I cannot get the paranoia out of my head about my various other moles on my body. The one he removed didn't look that different from others to me, so why should we not check on some of the others that I have? A decent amount are clearly irregular, after all, and who's to say some of them aren't moderate-severely atypical without doing a biopsy on them? The ones on my scalp also worry me because they are very hard for me to see and since my appointments I have found a few more moles that I honestly don't think the derms. even noticed at the time (I use a hand mirror, but the angling, lighting, and hair in the way make it very hard for me to truly notice if any kind of change is happening). I feel like I overthink things too much to simply go by the "wait and see" approach to these moles. Should I insist on a biopsy on some of the moles that really concern me? Am I being absolutely ridiculous? Peoples' stories on the internet about moles that were seemingly nothing and/or their derms. at first dismissed have set something off in me that I can't shake.

     
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    Old 03-27-2014, 08:55 AM   #2
    Babbylon
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    Re: Cannot stop anxiety over my moles.

    Hi,

    I can sympathise you because I too have a similar level of worry and paranoia about my moles. It first started when I noticed a mole on my armpit that seemingly came from nowhere. I've always been a bit moley, but the discovery and subsequent internet research (always a bad idea) really set off my alarm bells and I started checking my body thoroughly. You can imagine my panic when I found a small brown mole that had a black spot inside it on my back.

    Went to a GP who has a specialisation for dermatology and luckily he was a "even if I'm not concerned I'll remove it anyway" kind of guy. I know what you mean though; different doctors do sometimes have very different attitudes to the same issue. It's just a fact of life I'm afraid and you need to find a derm who is as thorough with the problem as you deem necessary.

    I've had 4 moles removes, including the armpit and black spot mole, and all of them were benign. The armpit one wasn't even a mole apparently, despite looking identical to one, and the black spot one was mildly dysplastic.

    Recently I've discovered a fingertip sized red mark on my scalp, similar to the one you mentioned, so that's set off my worry again as it's not been there before. I'm travelling abroad so can't really see a doctor for a couple of months (which doesn't help my anxiety about it), but I'm monitoring it closely as best I can.

    I think there's absolutely nothing wrong about being insistent to your doctor about a thorough check or mole removal. I'd encourage it because at the end of the day it's your body and your state of mind. They shouldn't be unwilling and if they are, they're not doing their job properly.

     
    Old 03-27-2014, 09:14 PM   #3
    gingertea
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    Re: Cannot stop anxiety over my moles.

    I see a dermatologist every year for a full body screening. They check everything from my scalp to between my toes. I have had 2 skin cancer surgeries and I can tell you neither one started out as a mole. I had one removed from my arm....it was the same color as my skin and looked more like a scar than anything else. My regular doctor said it was scar tissue so I didn't have it looked at by a dermatologist for a few years. The dermatologist knew immediately and removed it and the area around it and sent it in to be biopsied. It was basal cell cancer. She managed to get it all, because the margins all around it were free of cancer. She did biopsy a mole, but it was fine. After that visit, I started getting checked out yearly. The second skin cancer showed up on my face and again it looked like regular skin. My only clue to getting it checked out was because whenever I washed my face that area would bleed a little. My derm was sure it was cancer, but because it was on my face she did a biopsy first. She was right in her diagnosis and I had it removed.

    When I was younger I had 4 huge ugly black spotted moles on my back removed and they were fine...so skin cancer doesn't always start as a mole.

    If you have concerns I would certainly get a second opinion. I am a little less worried now since both times the spots were cancer, the dermatologist knew just from looking at them. Still, she says to be vigilant and call her if anything new appears or anything old changes.
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    Old 04-02-2014, 11:20 AM   #4
    Chele60
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    Re: Cannot stop anxiety over my moles.

    Life isn't worth living if you go around paranoid and worrying, trust me. I had 3 very large, very black, very jagged moles on my torso that I just knew would one day be "ripe" to turn into skin cancer. After all, I'm very fair-skinned, have red hair, spent way, way too much of my youth at the beach in search of the perfect tan, suffered way too many sunburns. My doctor at the time looked at them and told me he really didn't think they "were anything." I insisted, he relented. They were removed and biopsied. Turned out they were just regular moles. They fit every single one of the A, B, C, D, E's of what they tell you melanoma looks like. But...they were just simple moles.

    Then, several years later, when coming out of the shower, for some unknown reason that I still have not comprehended, I noticed a tiny, itty-bitty freckle first developing on my left knee. Now, having red hair, I have a fair number of freckles and moles - why notice this one? Not sure. But as the days/weeks went on, it became bigger and more pronounced, until it turned into a mole. Still, I have moles developing all the time - why did this one stand out? Still don't know. Except that it ultimately looked....off. It didn't fit any of the A, B, C, D, E's of melanoma. It was perfectly symmetrical - almost TOO perfect. The border wasn't jagged - it was crisp - almost TOO crisp. It was dark in color, but no darker than any other mole. It was a little larger than other moles, but the ones I'd had removed years earlier were MUCH larger. This was just under the size of a pencil eraser. Then...it popped up, and that was strange. At my physical a month later, I brought up to my doctor, and she agreed to do a biopsy. Neither of us thought much of it. Two days later she called me to tell me it was metastic melanoma and I needed to schedule an appointment with a surgeon.

    Point being? Most skin cancer is actually discovered by patients, not doctors. YOU know your skin. YOU know what is odd and what is "normal." Basal and Squamous cell skin cancers normally do not develop from moles. However, they are also very slow growing cancers and are typically not deadly, because of the length of time it takes for them to grow. Melanoma is aggressive and quick growing. Without action/treatment, death can occur within 9 months. And melanoma usually always develops from something on the skin. (However, I do know of individuals who have had melanoma and doctors never did discover where it came from)

    You have done the right thing: you went to your doctor, and even followed it up with a second opinion. Trust me, you do NOT want to have a bunch of moles biopsied and be treated like a human pin cushion. It HURTS! I had a number of moles removed within the first couple of years after my diagnosis, and it is not comfortable. Find a dermatologist you feel very comfortable with, preferably one who specializes in skin cancers and not Botox, and make certain yearly skin checks are as much a priority as your yearly physical. Also, learn about sun safety and practice that. (sun block, hats, etc) Skin cancer takes you as an active participant to recognize and to take precautions against. Feel comfortable with your own skin. Learn what moles/freckles you have, where they are, what size they are, and do keep track of the ones that concern you. When you see your dermatologist, bring up anything that may have newly developed or changed. Use individuals in your life to help you out: friends, significant others, parents can check out places you can't, such as your back. Whoever cuts your hair can check your scalp. When showering/bathing, check yourself - and don't forget intimate areas, it's skin also! Check the bottoms of your feet and your nail beds. Make an appointment with yourself to do this once a month, and you will come to know your skin very, very well.

    Once you understand and know your body, understand and practice sun safety, and take control and not let this control you, some of the fear will subside. Take from some one who has had melanoma, and still does not consider herself a "survivor:" never, ever let fear dictate how you will live your life!

     
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