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4 Tips to Get a Doctors Appointment Sooner
by Brooke Jackson, M.D.

doctors-office-wait

Q. I’m concerned about a mole but have to wait more than a month to see a dermatologist! Should I go to my family doctor and have it removed instead? How quickly does a cancer like that grow?

A. A changing mole is a concern, and I do think it’s important to see a board-certified dermatologist. There are many criteria for evaluating a mole and not every changing mole needs to be removed.

Here are a few ways around the month-long wait:

  1. Try another doctor. You can find board-certified dermatologists at the American Academy of Dermatology’s website.
  2. Explain your situation. Tell the receptionist you have a changing growth and would like to be seen as soon as possible.
  3. Ask to speak to a nurse if the wait is still too long. Nurses can often override the front desk.
  4. Ask if they have a quick-call list (list of people they’ll call if there’s a cancellation). Most dermatologists would not keep a patient like this waiting. (If there’s no such list, you can check in with the office periodically yourself.)

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If your dermatologist is not able to see you with this type of concern sooner than a month, it’s probably time to find a new one. Some skin cancers are more slow growing, but others, such as melanoma, need to be seen as soon as possible. For them, a month is too long to wait.

newsletter-graphicDuring your appointment, the doctor may or may not remove the mole. If he or she does, what is most important is who reads the slides. You want to make sure it’s a dermatopathologist. This is a physician who specializes only in reading skin lesions. (The more you do, the better you are.) Ask when you call for the appointment where they’ll send the slides.


Board-certified dermatologist
BROOKE JACKSON, M.D., is the medical director of Skin Wellness Center of Chicago.


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Last updated and/or approved: February 2011.
Original article appeared in Januar/February 2009 former print magazine. Bio current as of that issue. This general health-care information is not meant as individual advice. Please see our disclaimer.
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