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Just had first biopsy

Forums Cutaneous Melanoma Community Just had first biopsy

  • Post
    Browneyes
    Participant

    Hi, I'm new to this board. I watched a mole grow for – I don't even know how long- maybe a year. It was kind of cute – a heart shape, oddly over the top my left breast kind of where you think of your heart being. It started to itch last summer. My husband told me to get it checked. This was denial on my part, I put it off. I went in a couple weeks ago to my family doctor and asked him for a full body scan for skin cancer. He looked at the mole and agreed – set me up with a Derm in the same clinic.

    Hi, I'm new to this board. I watched a mole grow for – I don't even know how long- maybe a year. It was kind of cute – a heart shape, oddly over the top my left breast kind of where you think of your heart being. It started to itch last summer. My husband told me to get it checked. This was denial on my part, I put it off. I went in a couple weeks ago to my family doctor and asked him for a full body scan for skin cancer. He looked at the mole and agreed – set me up with a Derm in the same clinic. I got the full body look-over and then asked the Derm if he was taking it off – he said Oh yeah. I asked if he thought it was Melanoma and he looked me in the eye and said yes. He did a excision biopsy and I waited for 5 days to hear about the biopsy and did pretty well waiting. Luckily I had done some reading the night before, so I was prepared for 'Melanoma' and the excision. They called yesterday and said yes, it's Melanoma. I had to ask what stage and the clerk said 0 – In Situ. I asked some other questions and she didn't say much but I will have WLE and she set up a 3 month appointment. She did say there would not be any other tests. 

    I've done ok with this considering how much I read over the weekend. I decided not to be upset until I found out the stage at least, but that didn't prevent moments of abject fear. I have read extensively (including some on this board and I'm sorry to everyone who has to go through worse stages of this cancer) and it is scary. I feel very lucky for this diagnosis and VERY nervous about the rest of my skin and future health. I'm just past 50, a smoker so I have plenty of other stuff to worry about. And I'm in the process of quitting that. 

    I am composing a list of questions for Friday when I get the stitches out and will be asking for copies of the biopsy report and office visit. So my question to anyone here – is this all standard? They tell you yeah, you have Melanoma, but you're stage 0 so there's nothing to worry about and then turn you loose after a wide excision?    Aside from asking the depth, the stage, the spread and what the WLE entails, what else should I be asking the Dermatologist? Something that really bugs me is… if you get Melanoma once even if it's stage 0, why is it not standard to do extensive testing right off the bat to see if you have it anywhere else? Like why don't they give all new patients a PET scan or something? It seems from some stories here that extra testing early might help catch some tumors in earlier stages. ? I don't get it. 

    Thanks for reading this. My hub went away on business for the rest of the week and I'm kinda sitting here worrying about various things like what vitamins you can take that won't make the cancers grow more, are the UV rays coming in thru the skylights in the room where I sit every day, should I have some other moles taken off, should I ask for a chest xray, etc. Thanks for any replies. 

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      Janner
      Participant

      Sorry you are joining us here, but if you have to – Stage 0 is where you want to be.  It boasts a 100% 10 year survival rate.  Never a guarantee, but about as good as it gets in terms of numbers.

      Wide local excision (WLE) is standard for melanoma in situ.  Nothing more is called for in terms of treatment.  Since it has such a high survival rate, why would you do something like a PET scan?  PET scans are extremely expensive and would not show microsopic disease.  In fact, they are notorious for false positives.  The problem with scanning is most of our bodies often have benign beasties.  So say they find something – then they have to biopsy or scan again in the future and in the case of melanoma in situ, it just won't be the culprit.  In addition, scans actually haven't been shown to improve mortality when it comes to melanoma.  Certainly controversial, but still the results.

      The thing you need to understand is melanoma in situ is confined to the epidermis only.  No blood vessels or lymph vessels are located in the epidermis.  So essentially, there really is no possibility for melanoma to spread given the anatomy.  Melanoma in situ has no depth.  Depth only comes into play after a lesion penetrates into the dermis.  That would be at least a stage I lesion.  There is a lot of speculation that says many stage 0 lesions will NEVER advance.  No way to know for sure, but just understand that it's possible your lesion never would have gone anywhere even if left in place.

      As for other moles, are they CHANGING?  You said you watched this mole change.  That is what I would be watching for in other moles.  If they aren't changing, why remove them?  Please remember only about 8% of the melanoma population EVER have a second melanoma primary.  It's just not that common.  If you have a lot of moles, you might consider having photographs taken so you can monitor your moles for change.

      (UV doesn't penetrate glass very easily, so I think your skylight is probably the least of your worries.  As for supplements and the rest, I'd just consider moderation.  This is certainly a wakeup call, but it also must be kept in perspective.  This is extremely unlikely to be the cause of your death.  As you said, your smoking probably carries a much higher risk of causing you future harm.

      Best wishes,

      Janner

      Stage IB since 1992, 3 MM primaries

      Melanoma in situ in 2000, WLE only.

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      Janner
      Participant

      Sorry you are joining us here, but if you have to – Stage 0 is where you want to be.  It boasts a 100% 10 year survival rate.  Never a guarantee, but about as good as it gets in terms of numbers.

      Wide local excision (WLE) is standard for melanoma in situ.  Nothing more is called for in terms of treatment.  Since it has such a high survival rate, why would you do something like a PET scan?  PET scans are extremely expensive and would not show microsopic disease.  In fact, they are notorious for false positives.  The problem with scanning is most of our bodies often have benign beasties.  So say they find something – then they have to biopsy or scan again in the future and in the case of melanoma in situ, it just won't be the culprit.  In addition, scans actually haven't been shown to improve mortality when it comes to melanoma.  Certainly controversial, but still the results.

      The thing you need to understand is melanoma in situ is confined to the epidermis only.  No blood vessels or lymph vessels are located in the epidermis.  So essentially, there really is no possibility for melanoma to spread given the anatomy.  Melanoma in situ has no depth.  Depth only comes into play after a lesion penetrates into the dermis.  That would be at least a stage I lesion.  There is a lot of speculation that says many stage 0 lesions will NEVER advance.  No way to know for sure, but just understand that it's possible your lesion never would have gone anywhere even if left in place.

      As for other moles, are they CHANGING?  You said you watched this mole change.  That is what I would be watching for in other moles.  If they aren't changing, why remove them?  Please remember only about 8% of the melanoma population EVER have a second melanoma primary.  It's just not that common.  If you have a lot of moles, you might consider having photographs taken so you can monitor your moles for change.

      (UV doesn't penetrate glass very easily, so I think your skylight is probably the least of your worries.  As for supplements and the rest, I'd just consider moderation.  This is certainly a wakeup call, but it also must be kept in perspective.  This is extremely unlikely to be the cause of your death.  As you said, your smoking probably carries a much higher risk of causing you future harm.

      Best wishes,

      Janner

      Stage IB since 1992, 3 MM primaries

      Melanoma in situ in 2000, WLE only.

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        Browneyes
        Participant

        Janner,

        Thanks so much for the reply and the link. I'll do some more reading. Lots of my family members have had basal cell cancers removed but I have remained sort of ignorant about all this stuff and all the testing.  I have a lot of sun damage. I had a pre-cancerous spot removed in 1995, but now I'm not even sure about what that was because I don't have the records on it and  this dermatologist says the other spots that look exactly like it are benign. And I do have one mole that is the same dark color as this removed one was, but it hasn't changed, except that I don't think these 2 moles were that dark when I was younger.

        I appreciate the info on the PET scans and knowing that what the dermatologist is doing is standard. I just wanted to know if there was anything else I should be asking for when I go back this week. More reading. 

        Take care,

        Browneyes

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        Browneyes
        Participant

        Janner,

        Thanks so much for the reply and the link. I'll do some more reading. Lots of my family members have had basal cell cancers removed but I have remained sort of ignorant about all this stuff and all the testing.  I have a lot of sun damage. I had a pre-cancerous spot removed in 1995, but now I'm not even sure about what that was because I don't have the records on it and  this dermatologist says the other spots that look exactly like it are benign. And I do have one mole that is the same dark color as this removed one was, but it hasn't changed, except that I don't think these 2 moles were that dark when I was younger.

        I appreciate the info on the PET scans and knowing that what the dermatologist is doing is standard. I just wanted to know if there was anything else I should be asking for when I go back this week. More reading. 

        Take care,

        Browneyes

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      lhaley
      Participant

      I'm sorry that you are having to go through this but if you are dealing with an insitu then there really is no need for further tests.  Realize that scans themselves have their risks. There is way too much radiation to justify scanning lower stages. You do need to be vigilant and watch your skin, however only 8% of melanoma patients have multiple mels. 

      A Wide exision for an insitu is not quite as wide as for other stages so while your scar will be obvious, it will not be very deep or long. You made a comment about wouldn't earlier scans help to catch some tumors in earlier stages. While sometimes cells do get missed during a wide excision, scans only pick up tumors that are at least a  few mm big, even then they are not always seen.  PET scans are known for false positives so then additional tests are performed, all at the risk of additional radiation.

      UV rays can come through glass (from what I understand) skylights. Normal doses of vitamins should not hurt you. Taking mega doses just doesn't make sense unless you have a deficiency. Try to eat healthy for your overall health. 

      Time will help calm your fears. Use this as a wakeup call to pay attention to your body. Wish you the best,

      Linda

      Stage IV since 06

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      lhaley
      Participant

      I'm sorry that you are having to go through this but if you are dealing with an insitu then there really is no need for further tests.  Realize that scans themselves have their risks. There is way too much radiation to justify scanning lower stages. You do need to be vigilant and watch your skin, however only 8% of melanoma patients have multiple mels. 

      A Wide exision for an insitu is not quite as wide as for other stages so while your scar will be obvious, it will not be very deep or long. You made a comment about wouldn't earlier scans help to catch some tumors in earlier stages. While sometimes cells do get missed during a wide excision, scans only pick up tumors that are at least a  few mm big, even then they are not always seen.  PET scans are known for false positives so then additional tests are performed, all at the risk of additional radiation.

      UV rays can come through glass (from what I understand) skylights. Normal doses of vitamins should not hurt you. Taking mega doses just doesn't make sense unless you have a deficiency. Try to eat healthy for your overall health. 

      Time will help calm your fears. Use this as a wakeup call to pay attention to your body. Wish you the best,

      Linda

      Stage IV since 06

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        Browneyes
        Participant
        Thanks to you also, Linda, for the information. I hesitated and still feel bad for asking for help with this 0 diagnosis from people who are dealing with much more serious stages of this disease. I just didn’t want to miss anything. I thank you and everyone else on this board for sharing your stories and at least I learned enough from reading here to know to ask for the medical records on this.
        Wishing you the best,
        Browneyes

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        Browneyes
        Participant
        Thanks to you also, Linda, for the information. I hesitated and still feel bad for asking for help with this 0 diagnosis from people who are dealing with much more serious stages of this disease. I just didn’t want to miss anything. I thank you and everyone else on this board for sharing your stories and at least I learned enough from reading here to know to ask for the medical records on this.
        Wishing you the best,
        Browneyes

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