- August 18, 2010 at 3:06 pm
If you have to have melanoma, in situ melanoma is where you want to be.
Just a quick comment about "precancerous". That's really a misnomer. Precancerous implies that if left alone, the lesion will turn into melanoma. That's just not the case. The vast majority of lesions ruled "atypical", "dysplastic", "precancerous" will stay exactly as they are. What you look for on the pathology reports is the degree of atypia. Most pathologists will grade the lesion as having either mild, moderate or severe atypia. The severely atypical/dysplastic ones are the most likely to change into melanoma – but even that isn't any guarantee. It is also quite uncommon to have more than one melanoma primary. Only about 8% ever do.
Yes, it is good to see a dermatologist regularly. Yes, it is good to practice sun safe techniques. Watch your moles for CHANGE. (I suggest some type of photography – ask your dermatologist). Lesions that are changing are the ones to be most concerned about. Even then, that doesn't mean they are melanoma, however. Just more suspicious.
My mantra is to be vigilant, but not paranoid. I've had 3 melanoma primaries and found them myself. All have changed. I utilize photos to help me monitor my moles – I call it my independent eye. Keeps the imagination in check.
Being newly diagnosed is stressful. It does get easier with time…