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What to expect during annual skin check?

Forums Cutaneous Melanoma Community What to expect during annual skin check?

  • Post
    Jess
    Participant
      Hi folks, first time poster here, hope this is the right spot for this question!

      My dad was diagnosed with Stage 3 nodular melanoma a few years ago. After surgery and treatment he is doing okay and hasn’t had any recurrences, which we’re very grateful for, but after seeing what he’s been through I’m trying to be as proactive as possible with my own skin health. In addition to the family history I also have all the other risk factors: fair skin and eyes, severe sunburns in childhood, numerous moles, etc. So when one of my moles grew and changed in color and shape, I figured I should have it checked out ASAP.

      I also asked for a full skin check, since I haven’t had one done yet. The appointment ended up being with a Physicians Assistant in the dermatology office instead of an MD. When she did the skin check, she just sort of had me stand up and ran a little flashlight over my body. She asked me to hold my arms out so she could see both sides of them, and to take my mask down very briefly to see my face, but didn’t check my scalp, ears or feet at all. She also didn’t seem to make any notes or take any pictures during the check, and just said to come back in a year, (which was surprising since my Dad’s oncologist said every 6 months was recommended for close family members). Is that typical for an annual skin check? The whole thing took less than a minute, it didn’t seem any different from what a GP would do at a physical. I was kind of hoping that the derm would document where my moles are to make it easier to track them over time. Is there some special name for that kind of exam?

      The other issue was that most of the darker part of mole that changed ended up scabbing up and falling off between when I made the appointment and the day of the exam (weird!), so there was only the more flesh-colored part left for her to look at. She didn’t think it was worrying, but agreed to do a shave biopsy.

      Assuming the results come back normal, should I look into going somewhere else for my next checkup? I almost wonder if because of covid precautions they were trying to keep exams as short as possible.

      I’m trying not to worry too much about the results before they’re in, but if anyone here has any advice about finding a good derm for this sort of thing in the future, it would be appreciated!

       

       

       

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    • Replies
        ed williams
        Participant
          hi Jess, best information on the forum used to come from Janner, sad to say she stopped posting but her old posts are still golden as far as information for early stage folks!!! Here is a link to one of her older comments on mole mapping, it kind of gives you an idea of how you should move forward and what kind of care you should be looking for. Reading what you posted made my blood boil, not professional at all!!! https://forum.melanoma.org/forums/topic/mole-mapping-fotofinder-in-southern-ca-la/
            ed williams
            Participant
              Also many have take photographs and watch for changes and “get naked” has been the big add campaign by MRF, also there are phone apps to follow moles. https://molemapper.org
              Jess
              Participant
                Thanks Ed! I’ll look into mole mapping. And maybe next time I’ll try to get an appointment with a doctor instead of a physician’s assistant.
                Johnjk04
                Participant
                  Jess, I do not like the way you worded that “And maybe next time I’ll try to get an appointment with a doctor instead of a physician’s assistant.” We all know how deadly melanoma can be, don’t settle for another less than the best care. If you or your insurance is paying for the visit, demand to see a dermatologist.

                  I started my melanoma journey in 2008. Progressed to cancer in my brain, both lungs, numerous organs and spinal cord. My oncologist wasn’t cutting it, I had to fire him. If I stayed with him, I wouldn’t be here writing this message now.

                  Bottom line, take care of yourself. Search and become a patient of the best doctors that you can find.

                  Not trying to be too harsh on you but I definitely want to see you live a full life. Blessings to Dad and you !!!

                   

                   

                  Jess
                  Participant
                    Thanks John, I really appreciate your honest perspective. It’s hard to know when something’s normal or not when you haven’t experienced it before.  It’s tricky to keep a balance between being cautious and worrying too much too. Knowing that I’m in a higher risk category, I feel like my best bet is catching anything as early as possible, and I want a doctor that is on the same page.

                    It really helps to hear that I’m not overreacting, even though I haven’t been diagnosed yet, and hopefully won’t ever be.

                    Blessings to you and yours as well.

                  ThinkingPositive
                  Participant
                    Cutaneous
                    Hi Jess,
                    I have a history of melanoma stage 2A, progressed to 4. My dermatologist does a very thorough skin exam from scalp, to perineum, and down to the toes. She has photographed many moles. A few times I did see her physician’s assistant, who did a very thorough job too. However, I was the one that found the primary lesion as well as the mestatastic lumps, and a basal cell (biopsy proven). I’ve learned to document my freckles and moles on paper, and also glad the doctor I have is fastidious!
                    Cindy
                    QuietPoet
                    Participant
                      Hi Jess,

                      I’m at 1A. My derm insists on an every 6 month check, but yearly is the norm if you haven’t had it yourself. 1 minute check? That’s absurdly short. Yes — check the scalp and face. I would go with a full-on derm. given your family history. Your gut is telling you to do that, it sounds like, so I would go with it.

                      Edwin
                      Participant
                        Because I had stage 4 melanoma, I see a PA-C dermatologist every 6 months. She is thorough and I trust her. On January 20 she biopsied a sore on my nose that might have been basal cell carcinoma. It was and an MD dermatologist will do MOHS surgery on my nose Tuesday.
                          ThinkingPositive
                          Participant
                            Cutaneous
                            Good luck Tuesday Edwin! Will you need a graft too? I had a graft on my nose from the melanoma 3 years ago. My new BCC is on my upper eyelid and Moh’s is scheduled for March 4.

                            Cindy

                          mrbill16323
                          Participant
                            Hope all goes well and that you get the best outcome. I have stage 4 malignant melanoma (nodular) and in Keytruda treatments now. Getting my next pet/ct next week to see if there are any urgent isues. As well, I had a full body review done by dermatologist and now having basel cell carcinoma superficial removed. Found 10 areas, all being removed in office except two, for which I had mohs surgery.  I’ll be seeing the dermatologist every three months probably for the next five years. Hoping I’m healed up and ready to return of physical activities soon!
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