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re-excision of abnormal mole
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re-excision of abnormal mole

Dear Doctor,

A year ago, I went to the dermatologist and had two moles removed.  The doctor called and said that they were benign, no further treatment necessary, come back in one year.  

I went to the different dermatologist (same clinic) last week and had two moles removed.  At the appointment, she informed me that the previous two moles had been abnormal.  I was angry that the other doctor had not told me that they were abnormal - even though they were benign.  

After this second visit, one of the moles came back abnormal.  The dermatologist said that one of the margins was not clear and so I am scheduled for a re-excision next week.  

Now I am concerned about the moles from a year ago.  Should they have been re-excised also?  

I am so afraid of melanoma that I can't seem to function.  I am 42, white, female, over 200 small moles with about ten large moles on my back.  

Can you explain more to me about abnormal moles?  My new dermatologist says that the terms "mild, moderate and severe" aren't even used anymore.

Any help or advice you can give me would be most appreciated.

Becca

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The person you should be asking this question of is the dermatologist you are seeing now.  If she informed you that "the previous two moles had been abnormal," you should ask her whether you need to do more with them.  I know the answer will be no, because otherwise you would have been told to take more skin around them off--and the doctor from last year would have called and said the same.

Your confusion comes from the the words "abnormal" and "benign." Moles can look a little funny under the microscope ("abnormal") but still not be cancer ("benign").  

It is clear that you do not and did not have melanoma.  Please ask your current dermatologist to explain the terminology he or she is using, so you can stop worrying.

Because you have so many moles, it is important that you see a dermatologist regularly.

Take care.

Dr. Rockoff  
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Dr. Rockoff, If I could ask a couple more questions, I would really appreciate it.  Should I be seen every six months or once a year?  If my new mole is abnormal but non-cancerous (which is what my new dermatologist told me), why would I need to have more skin take off around where the mole was?  Is this a preventative measure so that the abnormal mole cells don't turn into any cancer in the future?  Or are there cancer  cells in the unclear margin?  I will also try to ask my doctor this question but it is not easy to talk to her.  Thanks for all of your help, Becca

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