Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Biopsies, surgeries, clear margins........rinse and repeat

Steve had 2 biopsies on his back last Monday, September 16, 2013.  He had one via the "punch" method and one via the "shave" method.  Steve was called with the results today.  Both biopsies came back free of melanoma but were classified as "severely atypical".  According to his dermatologist, "severely atypical" moles have a high chance of developing into melanoma. 

On November 14, 2013 at 2:15 pm, Steve will have a surgery commonly referred to as "wide margin excision" to be sure that they have clear margins on both of the moles.  Even though the moles are not melanoma, MD Anderson is very proactive in severely atypical moles since they carry such a high risk of turning into melanoma.  The procedure is typically an inpatient surgery and takes 1-2 weeks to recover from.  Steve will be left with a 4-5 cm scar in each area.  But what a small price to pay to keep the melanoma at bay!

Info regarding the surgery:

"The procedure is called wide excision.
The surgeon removes the rest of the tumor, including the biopsy site, as well as a surgical margin, (a surrounding area of normal-appearing skin), and the underlying subcutaneous tissue, to make certain the whole tumor has been removed.
The width of the margin taken depends upon the thickness of the primary tumor.
Most surgeons today follow the guidelines adopted and recommended by the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization Melanoma Program:

  • At least 0.5 centimeter margin in all directions (less than 0.25 inch) 
This typically results in a scar at least 4-5 cm (about 2 inches) in length, but it may be longer depending on the location on the skin and the size and orientation of the biopsy site.  Skin grafting may sometimes be required to cover the wound, especially on the face or on the fingers or toes"

When Steve met with the dermatologist last week, they diagnosed him with atypical dysplastic nevus syndrome. People with this diagnoses are anywhere from 10 to 12 times more likely to develop melanoma. 

I will keep everyone updated on Steve's surgery in November.  Until then, we are happy that Steve is NED.  Yesterday, Steve started the Livestrong program at the YMCA.  The program aims to aid cancer patients that are recovering from treatment in rebuilding their strength, agility, and stamina.  He will probably end up missing a few classes due to the surgery, but hopefully that will not affect the effectiveness of this class.


  1. Hi Jennifer! I just got reading through a few of your posts and I had a quick question about your blog. I am involved in the cancer community and was hoping you could email me back when you get the chance. Thanks! - emilywalsh688(at)gmail.com.


  2. I just found your blog. My husband was just diagnosed with stage iv melanoma. I need to talk, email, pm on Facebook or something. My email is hawksnest1983@gmail.com