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Melanoma in situ

Forums Cutaneous Melanoma Community Melanoma in situ

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      Hi all,

      I am coming here for a little encouragement and hopefully some answers to a few questions I have below. A few weeks ago, my dermatologist removed a suspicious mole on my leg. The pathology report came back as “moderately atypical and evolving into Melanoma In Situ.” I am going back this week to get a larger portion of skin removed. This did not come as a huge surprise to me, since my mother has also had melanoma removed (hers was stage 1B) and I’ve had a few moles removed that turned out to be dysplastic. I am now on high alert and dealing with a fair amount of anxiety, as I examine other moles on my body and wonder if they may be cancerous as well. I plan to get a few more suspicious moles removed for good measure.

      My question to you all is- how long does melanoma stay “in situ” before it evolves into a more dangerous, invasive form? Weeks? Months? Years? I keep wondering what would have happened if the dermatologist hadn’t caught this when she did. I’ve had this mole my whole life and never noticed any changes, but she noticed a suspicious, tiny white spot when she examined it under the dermascope. 

      And my second question- is Melanoma In Situ technically considered cancer? I am a little confused by this diagnosis. 

      The dermatologist recommends I now get skin checks every 3 months. I’m trying to stay sun safe and watch my moles, but I always start feeling very scared when I examine my moles. I am covered in freckles and have many moles that look irregular for one reason or another. I’m afraid something is going to get missed.

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          No one knows how long melanoma stays "in situ" before it grows into and below the skin level.  That is why it is important to have skin checks and do self checks frequently.  Melanoma "in situ" is cancer.  It is cancer that has not penetrated the dermis (skin) and so is outside of the body and, therefore, not supposed to be able to metastasize.  The cancer is the same but the other stages of melanoma have penetrated the dermis and have increasingly greater risk of metastasis depending on how deep the progression is.


              Quarterly checks by a qualified dermatologist and / or surgical oncologist can't hurt; you may find that, after a certain period of time, you will be advised to dial this back to 6 month and then perhaps even annual intervals.

              Self-checks using the "ABCDE" method are a given, always.

              I have no medical background, but do believe that "once it's in you, it's in you", meaning that micro-metastases or single stray cells may always exist. I recall reading recently that the dermal layer may allow for some cellular migration / transport.

              Stay vigilant and biopsy / cut as often as you feel necessary; the stories on this forum underscore the importance of being proactive, at all phases of the disease.


                However that involves the dermis and not the epidermis (Where Melanoma in Situ lives) .   

                In this article it states how rare metastasis is in Melanoma in Situ stating only a few cases have ever been reported.   Out of the three listed – two had evident regression.



                  Thank you for all the replies. This information is helpful. I’m getting a wide local excision this afternoon. I’m glad this was caught early and I will continue to be vigilant. Any tips are appreciated! 

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