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Ask Maureen Whelihan Your Own Question
Maureen Whelihan
Maureen Whelihan,
Category: Dermatology
Satisfied Customers: 6
Experience:  physician - owner at Center for Sexual Health and Education LLC
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Is there a way to tell by looking at a lesion if it is

Customer Question

Is there a way to tell by looking at a lesion if it is melanoma or not if it has no pigment ?
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Dermatology
Expert:  Maureen Whelihan replied 6 months ago.

Hello - I am Dr Whelihan. You are correct in understanding that some melanoma's have no pigment and can be deceiving! This type is more likely seen in a fair-skinned individual. Any suspicious lesion should be seen by a dermatologist (who has the most trained eye!). Sometimes they can immediately dismiss your concern and tell you it is a benign mole but if they are concerned they will biopsy that (relatively painless) and send it to the lab for evaluation. You will get your information back in about 3 days or so. It is always better to be safe than sorry if you are concerned - especially with Melanoma. Do you know a dermatologist in your area?

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I do have an appointment with a dermatologist but I it's not for a few more days . Does this look like Amelanotic melanoma to you ? I know the looks can be deceiving but I'm very worried this is what that is . I have had lymph nodes swell recently and they are tender and burn . I'm scared that this is melanoma and it is spreading .
Expert:  Maureen Whelihan replied 6 months ago.

That particular lesion does not look so worrisome to me - but I am glad you are seeing a derm who will put a small magnifier on it to see it up close! Generally lymphnodes with cancer are hard but NOT painful or tender. Generally nodes that are tender are inflammed due to a little infection moving through. Did you try hot moist compresses for the nodes?

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I have not tried hot compresses on them . Would non cancerous lymph nodes go back down or would they get bigger ? So that lesion does not appear to be amlenotic melanoma in any way ? What about this spot ?
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
The lymph node swelled under my arm pit on left arm a few weeks back and then it formed a hard lump where my arm bends at the elbow and then this past week the node at my supraclavicular node above my collar bone formed art hard lump but the hard lump went down but it still burns and feels tender .
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
If it were amlenotic melanoma and it is in my lymph nodes right now is there any chance it hasn't spread to any organs yet ?
Expert:  Maureen Whelihan replied 6 months ago.

It would be very uncommon for a melanoma to spread to your lymphnodes from region to region in the time frame you are talking about. Sometimes when we are worried about something - all of the other symptoms start appearing that go along with our concern. The most important thing is that you have a derm appt to look at your skin and concerns to give you a diagnosis. He/she can also palpate your nodules and if they are of concern will send you to a surgeon or specialized radiologist to biopsy the nodes. I know it is hard to not worry, but worrying will do nothing but make you not sleep! (and that is terrible for your immune system!) Keep your appointment and I hope that you are pleasantly surprised.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Did the other lesion I sent you a pic of look like it might be malignant ? I have had it for 4-5 years and it has changed . Thank you , you are right it does interfere with sleep for sure. I should have been having skin checks yearly with a derm but I never thought much about it until recently . Thank you I hope I am too , my appointment is day after tomorrow.
Expert:  Maureen Whelihan replied 6 months ago.

I did not open the links to the other photos - but things that don't change or change very slowly after 4-5 yrs do not worry me as much. Nonetheless. Begin with annual skin screenings and if needed, they will ask you to come 2x per year. Good luck!

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
That one started after I got stabbed with a pen. It started as a black dot and then raised into a pretty uniform small circle a few weeks later that looked similar to a wart or bubble . It was a grey blue color . It hasn't grown in size at all or changed shape but it seems to be shrinking and the color has lightened . Is it true that melanoma will also shrink sometimes instead of grow ? I definitely will be getting regular screenings now. Is there a limit to how many lesions I can have biopsied a year ?
Expert:  Maureen Whelihan replied 6 months ago.

Melanoma's do not begin with a pen stab - no worries! You can have as many biopsies as you need, however your insurance may limit how many are covered as part of a single visit - like 17 biopsies/destructions

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I don't think it started from the pen stab but it came up in the same location . It looks different than all my other moles , freckles so it'd like the ugly duckling but I hope that doesn't necessarily mean it's cancerous . That's good , I know of at least 6 lesions I would want biopsied just to make sure .