Skin Cancer & Melanoma

Forum members post their personal stories:

Chronic wrote:

I went to my local GP about 3 months ago to look at a suss mole i had on my leg it started growing about the beginning of the year. he was a skin cancer "specialist" apparantly - no problem was his verdict come back in a year.

there's the old saying get a second opinion - so i did about 3 weeks ago. This time i went to the Australian skin cancer clinic, within 10 minutes of getting there the doctor was cutting the mole off my leg and inserting 10 stitches.

i thought it would end there but he rings a week leter to let me know {after a biopsy from the lab}that the mole was in fact a melanoma level 1 - this means it has penetrated my skin by more than 1mm but not more than 2mm.

he calls me back to his surgery {last week} for further removal of suspect area which has to be 1cm all around where the original surgery was. now i have 31 stitches in a "T" shaped scar to be. i am now anxiously awaiting the result of the 2nd biopsy report from the lab.

the mole itself wasn't huge or any unusal shape,though it did become a little itchy - the reason why i went to the cancer clinic in the end.

do yourself a favour and go every six months- ring 1300 136 600 as they are Australia wide ,it costs nothing, don't trust them? "Get A Second Opinion" or even a third you have a problem if all the doctors tell you the same thing. there is a million websites that have info on Melanoma, have you seen the advert on TV?

with the amount of time kiters can spend on the water, you have be to alert.the VERY WORST type you can get is in your eye!! buy sunnies obviously that's a start

anyone who rings 1300 136 600 and finds they have a melanoma and has it removed before it advances to levels 2,3 or 4 owes me a case of beer every year for life. if it has gone to level 4.....i shudder to think

dark black moles are what they are looking for mostly but they can be all colours. if you have one that is itchy pick up the phone.

i'll be kiting again in a month or so, look for me i'll be wearing a steamer in the middle of summer, sunnies and an inch of zinc on my face......

JoeSpencer wrote:

Bad signs in a mole:

size > 6 mm = very high risk of melanotic change already
irregular "moth eaten edge"- sign of the spread radially outwards
bleeding, ulcerating = abnormal skin healing
dark irregular pigments
more than 1 colour - esp if white, white blue "veil" (= scarring) , black, browns
recent CHANGE
family history of melanoma= 4 x own risk of melanoma

Safe sun time in QLD (no sunscreen)= 11minutes- Tasmania=59 minutes.

Sunscreen with SPF of 30= 30 x11minutes safe time - reduced by water.

Always apply 1/2 hr before

Polarized sunglasses will prevent retinal melanoma, cataract and pterygium (.recent retinal melanoma reported in 35 y,o kiter-metastatic into liver lung bone on presentation)

Significant is skin type, family history, and exposure to burns before 15 y.o- bad burns can double the risk of later melanoma (can take 20 years)

Very very treatable by wide margin (>1 cm) excision, but only if caught EARLY, before deep extension

Examination guide:

If the Doctor doesn't look at it with either a dermatoscope (small lighted magnifyer which needs a drop of oil on skin to aid view of pigment layer of the skin) or a macro camera, generally he isn't getting enough info to judge the bad ones from the good.

Skin clinics are ok, dermatologists much better, but both can get it wrong- regular checks (6 to 12 monthly) reduces this risk.

Some melanomas are obvious to the naked eye- most early changes of melanoma (pigment distribution, network, veil etc etc ) aren't.
If in doubt push for excision- all excisions should be sent to the path lab for microscopic examination (essential), and usu takes 5 days for a result.

Good luck....

p.s. skin specialist= dermatologist= 5 yrs extra training in skin.

"skin clinics" are ex-gp's with an interest and variable extra training (usu only "on-the-job" training/experience)

if you don't need a referral they are not dermatologists and therefore not technically "skin specialists"

Zinc oxide is better than titanium at absorbing uv light. It does extra uv absorption than titanium- only problem is it is harder to get adequate coverage. It will work best on the worst sun affected areas, eg across the nose and cheeks.

water sunglasses (wiley x polarising sg-1 goggles are shotgun impact resistant, so perfect for kiteing), long sleeve rashies and hats (no exposure is safer than sunscreened exposure), and sunscreen up when loading the car with the kite gear.

I bought one of those stupid but effective chin strap hats, and will start wearing it when the urge to hit myself fades!

You would probably already know this, but you need 3 monthly skin checks for about 1-2 years now that you have had a melanoma .

Also encourage your brother/sister to have regular checks- they are at higher risk because of your melanoma.

Chronic Wrote:
got my 31 stiches taken out today,another two weeks healing and i can be back kiting. was going to put up a pic of the dotors work,but its a little grusome so i won't, just hit yourself twice with an axe in a T shape cut that's about the same result

i got two brothers, one managed to drag himself along to a doc.yep he had a few "bits" chopped from him as well.

its takes 10 minutes to get checked, to be sure, get two opinions. nothing worse if i had to say to you as your karking it of melanoma "i told ya to go" it won't kill you to go but not going might.....

just wondering if anyone has been to the doc since reading this,i'm sure the guys who posted have by now.

and thanks to Dicko who has made a promise of a case of beer!

Rod Added:

Mine is a little long winded but I think worth reading.

My background is years of "sun wreckless" surfing since I was a kid until I was about 25 and now 15 years of "sun responsible" surfing and kiting all with fair skin. This has resulted in 8 or so BCCs cut out, several smaller bccs treated sucessfully with Aldara and Effidux, two SCCs cut out, these are potentially fatal, and dozens of solar keratoses treated with liquid nitrogen.

Over the years, my first treatment was at 20, I have had some less than satisfactory treatment from both GPs and Dermos but after my years of experience as a patient I know my stuff well enough to get the treatment I want. I have never been to a mole/skin cancer clinic so can't comment on them.

My treatment I have now is a 6 monthly check up with a dermo by GP referral, or IMMEDIATELY if "something" appears, which includes checking soles of feet and my scalp. I am not bald but have highish peaks and have always been a little thinner on the crown but not one dermo ever checked my scalp until after getting my first SCC on my back a few years ago and learning of the potentially disatrous outcome of them on the scalp I now ask the dermos to check my scalp routinely.

Incidentally my first SCC was diagnosed as a cycst by a dermo who made an appoinment to come back in a few weeks to review it. It almost doubled in size over the next few days and became quite painful. I called the dermo office and was told there was no availability until my own appointment and to wait until then, I said I would be there in 1/2 an hour and would leave after I had seen someone, which I did. It was diagnosed properly then and they cut it out that day but the surgery was botched, which is another story, and I now have a scar on my back which is 3-4 times the size it should have been if treated properly when I first went in. And this is after an expensive revision by a plastic surgeon. I haven't been back to that dermo and I now get all my cutting done by a good plastic surgeon.

I also now do a two yearly 4 week effidux treatment under my dermos guidance on high risk areas like face, forearms, thighs and backs of calves(from years of surfing). So far I have done my face and forearms which revealed and killed off a huge amount of infant growths below skin level and I reckon it took a few years off my complexion as well which was a bonus. I'm now onto my calves and then I'll do my thighs and then I'll be ready to start again.

In terms of kite surfing I always wear good sunnies, a surf cap with protective covers OVER the ears and not straps around them, a helmet if its nuking, good sunscreen on my face and neck, fingerless gloves(kiters get a huge amount of direct sun on the backs of hands), and a long john with long sleeve rashie underneath or a steamer if its cold.

Yeah I'm def not the coolest guy on the beach but I've got kids now and will hopefully be around for a few years yet to teach em how to surf and kite when they're older, with all the sun safe gear of course!

Safe kiting!!!

BruceX added "I would have rather been bitten by a shark"

I know there is a whole thread on skin cancer but I never looked at it till this happened to me.
I am writing this to give people a heads up on doctors and skin cancer clinics.
Here is my story.

have been religously getting my skin checked anually as I have been in
the sun all my life. 18 mths ago I went and asked the doc to check this
small lump on the back of my calf - about the size of half a pea -
He said it was not a cancer risk - went back 12 mths ago same thing - nothing to worry about.
months ago I decided to to MOle Scan here on the sunny coast - I again
pointed out the lump - doc said - NO thats nothing to worry about. 3
weeks ago as part of my annual check at the gp I showed him and he said
No nothing to worry about - I said I wanted it out as I thought it had
got bigger - size of a pea. SO I booked in to get it out - 7 stiches and
a week out of the water. When I went back to get the stiches out I
bounced in and said was the patholgy all clear?

HAve a seat - It came back malignant melanoma - 4.3 mm deep which is what they call level 5
There is no level 6 - High indication that you are at risk of having it spread in your body
got a referal to a specialist to get further margins cut out and also
had a full body ct scan which fortunatley came out clear.
On tuesday I had further surgery to get a 4cmm x4 cmm x 2cm deep shark size chunk cut out to make sure
I just got the call from the surgeon - all clear - no cancer cells found thank god.

I have just had the biggest shock and scare of my life - zero on the fun scale.

So my warning to all - get a second opinion - and if you are concerned go to dermatologist

If I had let this go as was suggested by 2 doctors - I would have had a bad prognosis -

I am now out of the water - for 3 weeks - 20 odd stitches - I have missed out on going to Bali for our coaching camp - BUT I should be ok in the long run although I will need regular monitoring.

Skin Cancer