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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Moley, Moley, Moley

Did you know that I used to work for a Dermatologist office? I was a medical assistant for about a year after I graduated college. At that time, I was still trying to get my second degree in nursing. Since my husband & I have moved three times in three years, the nursing thing didn't end up happening. I got to do all kinds of stuff like drawing blood, assisting in surgeries, skin exams and many, many other things (I'm sure you can imagine). The job was so much fun and very interesting. No one day was a like, but it definitely had it's downsides as does most jobs. Anyway, I wanted to bring this up now because I realize how important it is to share some of the things I know about skin. :)

I recently had a scare myself and will be having surgery tomorrow to remove an abnormal mole. It was a mole I've had my whole life, but the dermatologist thought it looked suspicious and biopsied it. The diagnosis came back as possible Melanoma… I was freaked (knowing what I know). Since it wasn't very conclusive we got a second opinion and it came back as just abnormal. So tomorrow a mole specialist will be removing a larger section of my skin to make sure that it is all gone, leaving no chances for the mole to come back. I was so relieved to hear that I was in the clear but it made me realize that it could happen to anyone. So here comes the part where I share a little bit of what I know.

First of all, EVERYONE needs to get a full skin exam by a dermatologist. In regards to how often this is done depends on your skin type. If you are a moley person or sunburn easily, it's probably a good idea to go once a year. If not, you should still go once every couple of years. In between visits, it's always a good idea to check yourself out. Make sure to check your back, between your toes, bottom of your feet and finger nails. Even your scalp needs to be checked. Your hairstylist can look for you next time you have an appointment. You would be surprised how many cancerous moles are found in these areas.

What you need to look for:
You should become familiar with your birthmarks, blemishes, and moles so you know what they look like and can spot changes. As you examine your skin, look for changes in the size, color, shape, or texture of a mark on your skin.

Signs of skin cancer include:

  • Mole that is different from the rest, itches, bleeds, or is changing in any way — even if the mole is smaller than 6 millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser)
  • Sore that never fully heals
  • Translucent growth with rolled edges
  • Brown or black streak underneath a nail
  • Cluster of slow-growing, shiny pink or red lesions
  • Waxy-feeling scar
  • Flat or slightly depressed lesion that feels hard to the touch

If you see anything like this contact your dermatologist as soon as possible. Research shows that early detection of skin cancer can save your life. When detected early, most skin cancers can be successfully treated.


There are three main skin cancers that you should be aware of.

Basal Cell Carcinoma: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basal_cell_carcinoma
It is the most common type of skin cancer and is usually found on sun exposed areas of the body. It is very treatable and is rarely life threatening, but can still cause a lot of damage due to scars left behind from surgery. Statistics show that 3 out of 10 Caucasians will develop this cancer. It may appear as a bump or growth showing pearly or waxy, white or light pink, flesh-colored or brown characteristics.


Squamous cell carcinoma: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squamous_cell_carcinoma
This is the second most common type of skin cancer and is also typically found on sun exposed areas of the body. Squamous cell is a little more aggressive then Basal cell but caught early enough it rarely metastasizes. This cancer most often looks like a scab. It can look thick, scaly, red and inflamed. Squamous cell does not heal and may intermittently bleed.

Melanoma: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melanoma
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It is extremely important to catch this cancer before it reaches the deepest part of the skin where it is most likely to metastasize. If this is caught early enough, it is nearly 100 percent curable. Unlike the other two skin cancers, this one can appear anywhere on the body and isn't necessarily caused by sun damage. Although, sun/tanning booths are a factor in many cases. The majority of melanomas are black or brown. However, some melanomas are skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white. The following information is from http://www.skincancer.org/the-abcdes-of-melanoma.html.
I hope this information has been helpful. Remember, I am not a medical professional. If you have any questions regarding your skin please contact a dermatologist. Always remember that sun tan lotion. You may not tan as quickly as you like but it may save your life.

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8 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing, I laughed out loud when you said "moley person." My hubby is and Emma has a few. I'd love to hear your thoughts on removing them in young children. Would it help prevent anything in the long run? thanks for the info!

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  2. Thanks so much for the info! I am always scared that one of my moles could be cancerous...to reassure myself I need to set up an appointment! I hope everything goes well tomorrow!

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  3. Not gonna lie, these pictures made me want to throw up a bit

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  4. you are such a sweetheart. :) thanks for the prayers! i will say a prayer your surgery goes well today! :( i am so glad they caught it early enough it sounds like yikes. thanks for posting all this info, i definitely have wondered about a few of my freckles that are starting to get bigger :/ haha eeeek!! i should get it checked out too

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  5. thanks for sharing!
    the pics are a bit graphic.
    i hope everything goes well for you tomorrow.
    have a great weekend :)

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  6. WOW, thanks for sharing your knowledge of this that could really help someone out. I know I haven't posted in a while I've just been so busy between school, work, cleaning and taking care of my little man. That is awesome that you guys get to car pool I wish my husband and I could car pool. We had to car pool for a week when my car was in the shop and it was nice to have that time the three of us:) I know I never thought I would be working for an oil company I always thought everything with oil companies was dirty and gross ;)

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  7. Thanks for the tips!
    I had moles removed whenI was younger from the back of my neck!

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  8. thank you for sharing, it is definitely something not to take lightly.

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