Tuesday, August 14, 2007

M is for...

Monkey (Gabriel's favorite)

and Malted Milk Balls (droooooooool)

and Men Without Hats (You can dance if you want to...)

and Melanoma.

It seems that my arch nemesis wants another go-around. Last Monday I had my twice-yearly checkup at the dermatologist's office. Actually, it is at the skin cancer clinic at the local kick-a** cancer hospital, but you get the idea. I screen myself regularly, and I let others screen me twice a year. Shortly after I had Gabriel, I also added to the diagnostic tool of full-body digital photography. Thankfully I did, because the docs at the clinic use those pictures every time I come in to compare mole size, colors, and existence. Well, one of my moles had decided to change just a bit. And the doctor debated on whether to biopsy because the new tissue appeared to be benign. But, given my history (confirmed melanoma in 2002), she went ahead with the biopsy. The results are that the mole is a displastic nevus with severe atypical features and the very beginnings of melanoma. Essentially, had I waited another couple of months, it probably would have made the cut for diagnosis. As it was, I essentially missed the diagnosis by the smallest fraction and the pathologists' report is that it should be treated as though the diagnosis did come back positive for melanoma. And my doctor agrees.

I go back on Monday for a surgical re-excision of the site with 5mm margins (the new standard- in 2002 it was 1cm margins). Given the fact that it was caught in the extremely early stage, I should need no additional follow-up treatment (outside of my screenings). And they can use a local anesthetic (lidocane without epinephrine for the curious) to do the procedure. The mole came from the back of my left calf, so I suspect walking around will become even more difficult. Lovely.

On a good note, my FIL was sent home today from the hospital (probably because he is giving them a headache). I will hear from Mr. D again tonight with an update on the transition. I hope that my FIL cooperates with the post-op discharge instructions and doesn't end up back in the hospital. If he does I'll have to kick his butt (with my right leg, of course).


Jenn said...

Wow, I'm glad you caught it early! This is the kind of thing that makes me want to slap my sister around, she never wears sunscreen, is super-fair skinned and doesn't have health insurance. I mean, with your risk, I'm sure you wear sunscreen and you still got it again anyway! She's the kind of person that you can't tell anything. Gah. Just what you wanted to deal with with a month till baby time, right?

wavybrains said...

I'm so glad you caught it early! Thanks for the excellent PSA about skin monitoring too. I'm rather lax in that regard and in the sunscreen, and I need to be better. Good luck! I hope the excision isn't too painful.

Anonymous said...

Ouch! I've had some suspect spots biopsied (on my back and on my arm), but all three were benign, not that one on my back didn't leave an especially ugly scar. I can't imagine one on the leg -- I would be flat for a week at least, never mind being very pregnant and dealing with a toddler at the same time!

So how do you do the all-over photos? Do you just take shots of the parts of your body prone to these things? Or can you get enough definition in one photo to do say, a front and a back?

Jenn (dish) said...

Thanks, all. I'm quite glad we caught it early, too. Cancer sucks to begin with, and melanoma can be particularly aggressive and fatal if you let it spread.

Tinker- the photography is done professionally through the dermatology department at our local hospital, but I don't think we're the only ones doing it. My insurance wouldn't cover it, but it only cost $60, which I thought was a bargain given what it could do to help me. The only weird thing is that you have to be completely nude for the photos, but they get a same-sex photographer taking the shots. They do a series of, gosh, I think 20 or 25 shots, each of a different area. The digital photos are super-duper high res, so when the doctor pulls them up on the computer at the office, she can zoom in to a specific mole and compare color, shape, etc, even though the full image encompasses the entire calf (or back or whatever). It's pretty cool.

Jane said...

So glad you caught this early! I am still hanging around if you need anything please call!!

miflife mommy said...

So very, very glad they found it early.