I went to the dermatologist today for a skin cancer screening. Skin cancer runs in my family, so I'm pretty used to getting screened every now and then. Today, I went to a different clinic, and I was cheerfully talking with the doc about how my dad once had to have a mole removed from the bottom of his foot and was on crutches for a time. The doctor says to me, "Be careful what you joke about because I am going to have to take this [microscopic] mole off of your toe to biopsy it." Serves me right, I guess.
Now, just to be clear, I am not concerned about this biopsy. First of all, I trust God with the results and know that He's in charge of my health. And secondly, I understood the main reason for the removal of the mole was that it was in a place that I don't/can't see in order to notice it if it does in fact change. And this is my fifth biopsy (not all skin-related). That brings up a question: How many biopsies does a person typically have in her lifetime? I am kind of hoping I have reached my quota. A related question is this: are doctors biopsy-happy, ordering biopsies for every little thing just to be on the safe side? And if so, how does this affect our overall well-being and care?
After my brief and simple procedure, the nurse, doctor and receptionist all "invited" me to come back for a follow up visit in 2 months, 1 month or 1 year for another screening. I became confused since all the recommendations were different. Why do I need a follow up exactly? If this biopsy comes back benign, what do I need to see the doctor about? Oh, he wants to be sure that the wound has healed properly. I'm pretty sure I can check that myself. If I'm having a problem, I'll come back in. No need to charge me $40 and my insurance company another $60 to $100. I certainly don't mind going to the doctor when I need it, but this seems like overkill. It's not as if I had major surgery or even stitches. I came home with a standard-sized band-aid and no medication. I think I've got it under control.
Labels: biopsy, health care