It's Public Service Announcement time here at Running with Whit!
Summer has just come to a close and that means that most of us have probably finished up another season of outdoor activities. If you are like me, then you probably weren't the most consistent about remembering to put on your sunscreen. Yes, I admit it...I start out every summer putting on sunscreen before my lunch lap swims but by the end of summer I'm skipping the sunscreen.
Last week I headed to my dermatologist for a skin cancer screening. I was shocked to learn that it had been 5 years since my last skin cancer screening. The screening is a very quick and painless process and one that should be done more often than every 5 years! You will take a few minutes to provide updated medical information and discuss any areas of concern. I had a mole that had been bothering me...I was constantly picking at it on my arm. I also had a red spot on my forehead near my hairline that I wasn't sure where it came from.
After meeting with the nurse, the physician's assistant came in to conduct the exam. The exam process is simple...You will be reviewed all over by sight and feel so that the doctor can understand if any freckles, moles, or spots are raised. Any spots of significant size or potential concern are marked in your medical chart so that they can be compared year to year to ensure they aren't growing.
Any spots of immediate concern are addressed by a very simple method. The area is first numbed and then the physician's assistant removes the spot with a small blade. The sample is then submitted for biopsy. It is very painless and quick and you hardly notice it. The lab work takes a few days and hopefully you'll get the all clear!
Back to my exam, the red spot that had been worrying me ended up being a broken blood vessel. We'll watch it for a few months to see if it clears up on its own. The mole that bothered me wasn't concerning in shape, color, or size but she ended up removing it because it was something that I was picking on and bothering me.
By Thursday, I had a phone call from the office giving me the okay that there weren't any cancerous cells in the biopsy. Good news but still a reminder to be more diligent about applying sunscreen. If you haven't been for a skin cancer screening in the last few years, please do so. It doesn't take much and it is so worth it for the peace of mind that you will get.
Here's a resource page on Livestrong with more information on skin cancer.