Melanoma: Prevention, Detection, and Treatment (cont.)
Interestingly, we don't think rubbing moles, physical trauma, having a bra strap over a mole makes them misbehave -- they irritate them but that doesn't make them go from good to bad. I suspect all is well, but I would see the doctor.
What we don't know is whether tanning beds simply mark people as sun worshippers. After all, people who go to tanning beds tend to think tans are beautiful. They tend to maintain a tan, spend time out in the sun, both use tanning beds and go to Florida and lie on the beach.
So, it's very hard to know the extent to which tanning beds make melanomas vs. tanning beds. Tanning salons identify people who are likely to get the kind of sun exposure that makes for more risk of melanoma.
My dermatologist requires I see her every six months, which is fine but my last appointment she decided not to take any off. All the others have come back abnormal. She said because I have such a variety of moles, and they always come back abnormal, they probably always will be abnormal so keep an eye on them and let her know. I think there is more to it than just that. I guess to me, abnormal is just that, abnormal!
Should I see someone else? Is it possible there's more to it than just having several "abnormal" cells? I know cancer can be beat but it is best to catch early. Please advise!
It's true people who have abnormal moles are more likely to get melanoma, but it's also true they don't need to have all their moles taken off. It's an impossible task, because in part, it's the whole skin that's at somewhat elevated risk of melanoma.
The best plan is to do self-examination aided by high-quality photographs.
If you have a melanoma that is more advanced then you're likely to have your lymph nodes examined -- the lymph glands that are nearest to where the melanoma is -- and this is a procedure called a sentinel node biopsy. If the lymph nodes have some melanoma in them it means the disease has gone from where it began to another place and that means the risk of metastasis elsewhere is higher.
Some people live forever after having involved-lymph nodes taken out, but people with lymph node involvement are more likely than people without to have seeds in their garden elsewhere to sprout at some later time. Therefore, some people with lymph nodes will get adjuvant therapy, or additional therapy, and this might be with a kind of immunological hormone, alpha interferon, or because that doesn't work very well and is fraught with side effects, you might choose to go on a clinical trial of, for example, a vaccine.
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