Hayley is a vibrant, fun-loving 35 year old mother of two. She has been a patient with us at Germain Dermatology for several years. Hayley recently visited us for a cosmetic appointment when Dr. Germain noticed a mole on her left calf. When asked about the area Hayley mentioned that it had been bothering her a bit as it had become mildly sensitive to the touch and more raised then usual. Although the mole had been there her whole life-the usually inconspicuous spot had developed many characteristics of an abnormal mole.
Upon closer examination Dr. Germain immediately decided the mole needed to be evaluated. She performed a biopsy and sent it to the lab for pathological evaluation. Pathology results returned and the diagnosis was Invasive Malignant Melanoma, Stage 1. Hayley returned the next day and had the entire Melanoma removed by Dr. McGowan, one of our on staff Mohs Surgeons.
Luckily in Hayley’s case the cancer was caught early enough that removal wasn’t too intrusive, nor did the cancer spread. Melanoma is one of the fastest growing cancers, and any delay in diagnosis can cost you a life. If not caught early the melanoma can form roots that grow through the other skin layers and fatty tissues allowing cells the chance to enter the bloodstream and lymphatic system.
“It is so important to work with your dermatologist to make sure that you are checking your moles for any changes. Besides seeing your dermatologist once a year, doing self-exams at home may save your life. Every month you need to stand in front of a full length, well lit mirror with no clothes on. Look at the front of you, your sides and underarms. Then take a hand held mirror and look and your back, private area palms and soles — everywhere! If there is anything that you notice that is growing, changing or different, see your dermatologist. It may save your life,” says Dr. Germain.
Haley admits her Melanoma was probably caused from too much unprotected sun exposure through her younger years, but also notes skin cancer runs in her family — her mother is also a melanoma survivor.
Since her diagnosis and treatment Hayley is avid about wearing sunscreen at all times, not just on beach days, and takes precautions to avoid sun exposure whenever she can. She has continued skin checks with Dr. Germain as well as doing at home self checks.
For Hayley skin cancer truly hit home. She urges everyone to, “Be aware, know your body and pay attention to anything that may be abnormal. When in doubt, check it out!”