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Moles -who knew?
Old 03-19-2008, 04:04 PM   #1
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Moles -who knew?

In the past year I went from being active duty and having my military doctor tell me “Your moles look normal, they don’t need to be checked” to being a civilian and having a dermatologist/surgeon cutting out nice thick chunks of my flesh and advising me that I should have a thorough exam of every square inch of my skin once a year and that I need to thoroughly check myself once a month.

For several years wife has been saying “get those checked.” And on a few occasions I went to clinic and asked a doctor to look and I always got the same flavor answer – along the lines of “looks perfectly normal, nothing to worry about, no need for biopsy or dermatology referral” - and the unspoken undertone was always - look, I’m really busy, I have ten patients waiting behind you, I've got no time for this, please get out fast.

Within 3 months of becoming a civilian I had a mole do something odd suddenly and without apparent cause. So I went to my new civilian doctor, and he referred me to a dermatologist right away. Dermatologist said we should check these moles. Biopsies round 1 – no problems – even on the weird one. Doctor wanted to check a couple others. OK fine but I’m not worried anymore – the weird one checked out OK and military doctors have told me that the moles my wife worries about look fine to them. Biopsies round two – displastic nevi, which I think means “structurally abnormal moles” - as I understood the explanation, there is some continuum of displasia ranging from “no problem” all the way to melanoma. My biopsies were not melanoma but were displastic enough that the doctor wanted to remove these particular ones along with a little margin around to ensure they were all gone. I was stunned – so much so that my first reaction was to think “No way – that can’t be necessary – I’m fine – what could these little discolorations possibly do to me?” But I figured removal of a couple moles couldn’t be much more involved than a punch biopsy had been – a little cutting, a couple stitches, and you’re good to go – right? Well, not exactly.
It was painless with local anesthetic and merely uncomfortable bordering on ouch when the anesthetic wore off. But it was more than a biopsy. He cut out a couple deep (well a lot deeper than I thought they’d be anyway) chunks of flesh – with a fat layer too - and cauterized some in each incision with a sizzling thing (sort of like a soldering iron – smelled a bit like burnt barbecue). Then he sutured the inside layers with some sort of filament that absorbs over time, and sewed the outside with some other filament that will be removed in a couple weeks. So I’ve got a couple of 2 inch lines of stitches (which itch) and restrictions on bending, stretching, lifting, and exercising for the next couple weeks. And I’m on a course of antibiotics as a prophylactic measure. Who knew surgery to remove a couple moles would be so much like surgery?
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Old 03-19-2008, 04:13 PM   #2
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I've had a bunch removed myself. Anything that looks suspicious gets carved out in a "better safe than sorry" schedule. A former boss of mine had a mole on his neck that went bad and spread to his lymph system. At age 56, on the verge of ER, he wasted away over the course of a year and died. My motto "If in doubt, carve it out"

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Old 03-19-2008, 05:09 PM   #3
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You may be very lucky indeed! A young man serving in IRAQ was told "No problem" by the military docs on several occasions. Got released and saw his old family quack... Long story short he died the day the TV crew was there to meet with him. At something like the ripe old age of 26 and just about 12 months after being discharged.

That was on 60 Minutes/Dateline type show last fall.
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Old 03-19-2008, 05:21 PM   #4
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It's not always possible to visually identify the edge of an abnormal lesion unless it is examined microscopicaly.

Do I understand that your are complaining about having medical care that may possibly have saved your life in the long run?

I guess you are going to complain about your colonoscopy, prostate biopsy, and lab work next.
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Old 03-19-2008, 05:46 PM   #5
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I think Joe was just expressing how surprised he was at the amount of flesh that has to sometimes be removed to make sure the mole is eliminated. I was rather surprised at this myself the first time a chunk of the hankster was removed!

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Old 03-19-2008, 05:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A854321 View Post
It's not always possible to visually identify the edge of an abnormal lesion unless it is examined microscopicaly.

Do I understand that your are complaining about having medical care that may possibly have saved your life in the long run?

I guess you are going to complain about your colonoscopy, prostate biopsy, and lab work next.
No, I was expressing two things:
1 - As Hank said surprise at the extent of what was removed - who knew a mole goes down to the bone?! OK I'm exagerating - but only a little.
2 - Complaint that while I was on active duty a few doctors all told me I didn't need to get my moles checked yet the dermatologist looked me over and said - yea let's biopsy that one and that one and that one and that one... - I do understand that doctors can't alwasy be right -it's not like I'm going to hold a lifelong grudge or anything
DW was saying the docs who said my moles were normal had to be mistaken - never surprises me when she's right.
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Old 03-19-2008, 06:06 PM   #7
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I had a skin cancer removed a few years ago. The doctor made a pretty large incision in relation to the tumor size. He said he needed to make it big enough so he could get a good look to see if he got everything.
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Old 03-19-2008, 06:18 PM   #8
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Now I am concerned. About 30 years ago my father cut out about 30+ moles. Biopsy was negative. Lately I have about 20 moles which I have the military PA or Doctor looking at. They say they appear okay and have been freezing them. Maybe I should be having them removed and biopsied. :confused:
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Old 03-19-2008, 06:40 PM   #9
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I would be glad they took a good chunk. You certainly don't want melanoma. A buddy of mine had one checked and sure enough, melanoma. One his face too. They did a massive cut/surgery that required a couple of touch up jobs to get his face to looking normal again. But the worst part was a drug he had to take for a year. A form of chemo. He looked like an old man during that year. Lost 40 lbs. You don't want to go through that.
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Old 03-19-2008, 10:09 PM   #10
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I've had 3 displastic nevi removed from my back. Thanks for the reminder to make another doctor appointment!
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