In 2008, I had my first diagnosis of skin cancer… two locations one on the right side of my nose and one on my right arm… they were squamous and basal cell lesions and were taken care of with MOHS surgery at one appointment each with very little scarring and no complications.
In September 2009, we noticed a new freckle on my right cheek about 1/16 inch square and it looked exactly like a freckle or aging spot. In December, my wife asked me to have my family doctor look at it when I went in for a regular check-up. He indicated that he believed it was nothing, but said it was time to go to the dermatologist anyway. The dermatologist thought it was really nothing, but I told them my wife didn’t like it there and thought I looked older because of the aging spot, so they said they would remove it and send it in for analysis.
To everyone’s shock, the test came back melanoma classified “in situ,” the earliest stage of melanoma. Two surgical procedures to establish clear margins later, the half-dollar sized plug was removed and skin slipped up from lower on my cheek in my beard to cover the hole, and it was over (now I have to shave just under my right eye daily). A year later, I would have to point out the scar… it is almost undetectable.
Now, I have a full body exam every six months. My case is almost not worth discussing except for the lesson learned.
It was fortunate that my wife did not like the aging spot and that the dermatologist was willing to remove it. But it means that you can’t just dismiss changes in your skin and write it off to aging… examination and investigations are very important. Melanoma can be tricky and unpredictable even for the professional. Don’t dismiss those new little skin blemishes as you age.