Marley and Melanoma: How Do You Know If You Need a Biopsy?
You know who Bob Marley is right? He is the artist behind many famous songs including “Three Little Birds”. What many people may not know is that Bob Marley’s cause of death was from melanoma that originated underneath one of his toenails. We know, this all sounds pretty scary. Who knew that melanoma could grow underneath your toenail?!?
In the famous words of Bob Marley, “Don’t worry about a thing”! We are here to help educate and guide you through it all.
So, let’s say that you have been a good patient and have been monitoring your feet daily, but one day you notice a dark spot underneath your toenail. What do you do next? Should you:
- Ask Dr. Google
- Ignore it for now and see what happens
You should not do any of the above options. Don’t panic.
A dark spot underneath your toenail does not automatically mean that it is melanoma. There are several other things it could be, but in order to know for sure, you need to see a physician. Google is a great resource for many things, but diagnosing medical conditions is not one of them.
If your doctor thinks the spot is suspicious, he/she might perform a minimally invasive procedure called a punch biopsy. A punch biopsy uses a three-millimeter punch to take a sample of the area to send to the lab. We numb the area beforehand, so you won’t feel a thing! The procedure does leave a small wound that is three millimeters in diameter, but it usually heals quickly and easily with the use of advanced wound healing products provided to you.
You can watch the procedure here so you know exactly what to expect if you need to have a biopsy performed:
Helix is a collagen-based wound healer that we use here at Lexington Podiatry. We have found that it is the fastest and most effective way to heal this type of wound. The powder form of the Helix makes it easy to use. The Helix comes in a kit with bandages and instructions, so you are armed with all the tools you need before you even leave the office.
It usually takes 2-3 weeks to get the results of the punch biopsy back from the lab. As soon as we have the results back, our office calls you. We understand how nerve-racking it can be to wait for biopsy results and want to make this process as seamless as possible. We always hope to deliver good news, but sometimes we do have to tell our patients it was melanoma. If this is the case, we will get you referred to the appropriate specialist for further evaluation and treatment.