General Question

lbwhite89's avatar

I might have skin cancer?

Asked by lbwhite89 (1208points) January 7th, 2011

I’ve always had a large number of moles. Most are small and hidden, with a couple of exceptions. I started seeing a dermatologist when I was 16. She removed 5 moles from my body and all were non-cancerous.

I went about two years with no insurance, so I didn’t go see that doctor. I saw her today for a full body exam. The only suspicious thing she found was a mole on my left breast. It’s about an inch below the nipple.

This mole was kind of the reason I made the appointment, because it’s new to me. I only noticed it a few weeks ago, but I’m not sure how long it’s been there. It’s oval shaped, dark brown in the middle, and the edges are a tiny bit lighter. It’s flat against the skin, not scaly, has never bled or itched.

She said she wants to remove it next Friday, so I scheduled the surgery for then. After that, I’m guessing I’ll have to wait a week to get the results. I just got home from this appointment, did some internet research on melanoma, and now I’m FREAKING OUT!

They say localized melanoma caught early has a 98% survival rate, normally cured just by removing the growth. However, this isn’t easing my mind. I’ll be driving myself crazy for the next two weeks if I don’t get some peace of mind.

Melanoma doesn’t run in my family, but I know it doesn’t have to for me to get it. I’m scared to death that if it is cancer, that it may have spread to my lymph nodes or other organs. What if I have to have chemo and radiation? Cancer is my worst fear, and now I might have it.

I’m a 21 year old white female, if that matters. If anyone has been through something similar and can offer first-hand insight, I’d appreciate it.

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19 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Take a deep breath.
I am male with fair skin. I have had a few spots cut or frozen off. If you need follow ups go with a smile.
My brother has had moles and spots removed so often the Dr told him to get an indoor job.

Oh, I had a cancerous internal tumor removed 29 years ago and had chemo.

picante's avatar

I’m the queen of odd spots and dots, bumps and lumps (I’m very fair-skinned and sun-roasted myself regularly during the folly of my youth). It’s likely that this is any one of a variety of benign skin growths—so please step away from the Internet except to Fluther. I have every belief that this is truly nothing to be concerned about. And do let us know how your test results came out.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’m going to say don’t panic until you know what the results are, just because that was the advice my doctor gave me when I found a lump on the boys. She was right, turned out ok, but my heart was in my throat for way too long. Same thing when my girl had a bad mammogram and had to have a biopsy. Two weeks of nothing but ice in the stomach. I know a little of what you’re feeling, but don’t panic until the results are back. Easy to say, a bitch to do. Best wishes.

Seelix's avatar

Even if you do have cancer, which is a slim possibility, and even if it has spread elsewhere in your body, which is an even slimmer possibility, there’s nothing you can do about it right now. I know it must be really hard, but there’s no reason to worry about something that you don’t even know will happen. (When I find myself worrying about things over which I have no control, that’s what Mr. Fiance tells me. It’s really tough, but he’s right.)

I wish you all the best, and please keep us updated.

gailcalled's avatar

The description of the mole sounds very unlike melanomas. My dermatologist says also to rub your finger over the surface of a new thingy. If it feels rough, have it zapped.

Also being fair-skinned and having spent too much time in the sun as a young woman, I go routinely to the dermatologist twice a year to have the “odd spots and dots, bumps and lumps” removed.

My mother, at 96, has the same routine. Occasionally something is pre-cancerous, which means that we were right to have it removed.

@picante; a perfect description. GA

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

A few years ago, I had a lesion on my forearm that I was absolutely convinced was a nonmelanoma skin cancer. I saw pictures of tumors on the Internet that looked an awful lot like what I had.

I had it examined by a dermatologist, who pronounced it a patch of eczema, and took a scraping of the cells just to make sure. He gave me a tube of a topical steroid to rub on it, and it was gone in about a week.

The point of this: the Internet is a shitty place to get a diagnosis.

YoBob's avatar

Your doctor tells you that even if it is cancerous the fact that it is small and caught early gives you 98% chance of survival. What’s to freak out about? I’m sure you can think of any number of activities you do from day to day that have more than a 2% chance of doing you in.

Nullo's avatar

The odds are fantastically good that there’s nothing wrong with you, since there is no history of melanoma in your family and your last several moles were ruled harmless.

So yeah. Don’t panic.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I don’t know if this is quite right for general, so if you need to mod it ok, But I was under the impression melanoma was related to sun exposure most of the time. So wouldn’t this location below the nipple not be that exposed unless someone was a topless sun bather? Or are just the other skin cancers sun related and melanoma not.

CaptainHarley's avatar


I have been living with incurable cancer for over four years now. I have never had chemo, but I have had radiation treatments. You have to remember that life is the only universally terminal experience. None of us are going to get out of it alive. Those of us with dread diseases simply may have more information about the “when” of it. Live your life so that those around you will be glad to have known you. Enjoy the small things, and try to live in the here and now.

Just a few thoughts from one who has reason to know.

Seelix's avatar

@CaptainHarley – I wish there were something more than “Great Answer” that we could click for that.

YoBob's avatar

Yep, what @Seelix said…

GA @CaptainHarley!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@CaptainHarley That is a great answer. Your class and dignity is amazing.

mammal's avatar

@Seelix absolutely, best wishes and love to the Captain. we have terminal differences of opinion, but notwithstanding that, peace and warmth unto him, most definately.

tedd's avatar

A friend of mine actually just had a localized melanoma removed from the back of her neck. She had known about the growth for a while longer (a few months now), and the surgeon said it didn’t look like it had spread anywhere (in particular her lymph nodes). You caught it early so your odds are very good. Try not to stress over something you can’t change at the moment, and take it as it comes.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe , from what I know of melanomas, they can occur in epithelial cells anywhere in the body, even in the GI tract. They don’t have to be in places that are exposed to the sun, even though sun exposure is implicated. But as I said, this is the Internet. I wouldn’t take my word for it.

Aster's avatar

I bet it’s nothing. In 1984 I had an oozing , black and bright red patch on my chest . Frightful looking with nothing ‘round’ about it. The dermie looked at me over his glasses and said it had been there quite a while. Luckily, I knew nothing about skin cancer at the time so I was totally unconcerned. It came back basal cell carconoma. No treatment needed.
A friends boyfriend, 72, had a melanoma on his ear that was removed but kept oozing. I thought he’d die from it until I read that melanomas are graded just like other cancers- Stage 1–4. I guess he had a one because I’ve not heard another word about it. I thought they preached if you have MELANOMA you’re a gonner. Such is not the case!

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Seelix @YoBob @Adirondackwannabe @mammal

Thank you for the very kind comments, guys, but all that I think I have learned I came by the hard way, so the credit is not mine.

skfinkel's avatar

When you looked up melanoma, did you see where it was most common? My memory (at some point I must have looked this up) was that it was on hands or feet most commonly. I might be wrong, but before you spend lots of time freaking out, find out as much as you can. You might find out that you probably just have a very common mole that your doctor just wants to remove.

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