Today I headed to Dr. Cool Guy, my local dermatologist, to have my stitches removed & get my final results. When the nurse called last week to let me know that my mole came back "OK" (She didn't want me to worry over the weekend....best nurse ever!) she told me that everything was fine. Dr. Cool Guy had a different reaction to the results.
He walked in, gave me a hug, and said "OK. The mole was a compound dysplastic nevus with moderate cytoarchitectural atypia." I gave him the "please dumb it down" look and he said, "It's not melanoma, but I am glad it is off of you." Well, in that case, me too!
What is a dysplastic nevus? Otherwise known as an atypical mole, a dysplastic nevus is a type of mole that looks different from a common mole. It can be larger than a normal mole, varies in color, and is usually flat. A dysplastic nevus is not cancer.
If a dysplastic nevus is not cancer than why is the dermatologist happy that I had the mole removed? A dysplastic nevus is more likely to become melanoma than your normal mole. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, people who have atypical moles are "at increased risk of developing single or multiple melanomas." They also explain that melanoma can begin within a dysplastic nevus.
What happens when you learn that you have a dysplastic melanoma? Well, don't freak out. Instead, use this diagnosis as a learning experience for you, especially those folks who do not have melanoma. Grab a partner, have regular at home skin checks, schedule to see a dermatologist once every 6 months, stay far away from the tanning bed, wear sunscreen--even on overcast days! Remember, when caught early, melanoma is treatable. Be smart.
Okay, I am finished lecturing for the night. Check out my friend Al's blog. He explains how we had our own "Occupy" event the other night! Whatever it takes, we'll get the word out.