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  Beyond Search Engines:
Google Answers Does Health & Medicine

Search engines can help you find Web pages that match your search terms. But this takes time and search skills, and even if you have plenty of both, finding in-depth answers to your pressing medical questions is not always so easy. The online visionaries at Google.com have taken the quest for online answers to the next level: The researchers at their new service, Google Answers, (http://answers.google.com) will answer your health and medical questions-or any other question-for a fee you choose yourself, starting at $2.50. And if you don't like their answer, you can get your money back.

The Google Answers Web page offers ten health-related categories

    General Health
    Alternative Health
    Conditions and Diseases
    Fitness and Nutrition
    Men's Health
    Women's Health

Here's one typical health question and the answer it received:


Subject: Mole Removal
Category: Health > Conditions and Diseases
Asked by: missy-ga
List Price: $20.00 Posted: 13 Jul 2002 23:52 PDT
Expires: 12 Aug 2002 23:52 PDT
Question ID: 39396

I have a mole under my arm that has been causing me some concern. I've had it all my life, and previously, it was very small, flat and was not bothersome. Recently, it has become vexing - it has gotten larger, is detaching from my skin, is much darker than before, and it occasionally itches quite ferociously.

Yes, I know this is bad. Yes, I know it could be cancerous. Please don't urge me to see my doctor, that will be vastly unhelpful - my appointment is Tuesday.

I'm certain my doctor will recommend immediate removal. What I need is for someone to describe the different procedures available for mole removal.

The entire mole is still mostly flat, and the size of the tip of a pencil eraser. The area still attached to my skin is about half that size. Does this make a difference in procedures? I am also very fair complicated, and bruise and scar quite easily. Does this influence the sort of procedure that might be used? Which method affords the fastest healing? What methods of pain management are used during the procedures?

Ideally, this will be answered by someone who has either had a mole removed themselves or has a close friend or family member who has had such a procedure and can draw from their experiences as well as their research. Not a requirement, of course, but it would be helpful.

I am too tired and too nervous to effectively research this subject myself, but want to be well informed before I see my doctor. Your help is appreciated.



Subject: Re: Mole Removal
Answered By: kinglouie-ga on 14 Jul 2002 01:33 PDT

Dear Missy:

Your mole will probably be surgically excised. Typically this results in a very small scar. Laser or cautery removal is another option, which leaves less scaring but destroys the mole and it can not be examined histologically to determine if it is malignant.

The procedure will be done at the doctor's office after a local injection of a numbing medicine such as lidocaine or marcaine. Some doctors use a cold spray that freezes the top of the skin so that you do not feel the needle of the numbing medicine.

Once it is numb he will use a scalpel to make the necessary incision and cut out the mole. After it is removed he'll put a stitch or two in place to close the incision and send the mole off for testing.

The procedure should only take a few minutes: after which you will probably not need anything stronger than Tylenol for pain. When I had mine removed I did not have to take anything at all.

If the mole is benign no further treatment is indicated. If malignant you may need additional testing and treatment.

Take courage! Most moles are benign.

Read more about moles and treatment at:

http://www.xtramsn.co.nz/health/0,,8086-1188606,00.html http://www.merck.com/pubs/mmanual/section10/chapter125/125b.htm http://www.merck.com/pubs/mmanual_home/sec18/207.htm http://web.ukonline.co.uk/ruth.livingstone/little/melanoma.htm

Search Terms: skin mole removal procedure Search Engine: Google Other Sources: Merck Manual On-Line

You are in my prayers,


missy-ga rated this answer:

Thanks, kinglouie. This is precisely the sort of information I was looking for - matter of fact, non-alarming, and from a source known for solid medical information. The "funny moles" page was a nice touch, as it handles a somewhat scary subject in a humorous, soothing fashion.

Other health/medical questions include: "Nose Piercing," "Itchy Scalp," "Low birth weight babies," "Spinal block vs. general anesthesia," and "Why do veggies taste so gross?" The non-medical questions make for equally fascinating reading, from "E-mail etiquette" and "The history of personal hair removal," to "What Is the secret of women?" and "How can I become a whirling dervish?"

Google Answers (http://answers.google.com) is worth a look. Click on "Health" to view the health-related categories. And click here if you'd like to see a question I recently asked.

Published in The Ferguson Report, Number 9, September 2002


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