Basal Cell Carcinoma—The "Good" Skin Cancer
My Bout with Skin Cancer
A little background:
I'm a fair-skinned, red-haired, blue-eyed girl with freckles. Even though I knew better, I used to lay out in the sun. I used to go to tanning beds, and I even used to put iodine and baby oil on myself to try to "encourage" a tan. Once, in high school, I remember getting so badly sunburned at Fernandina Beach, FL, that even my feet were beet red and I couldn't wear shoes. Even flip-flops hurt. What was I thinking? I'm sure I wasn't. Everyone knows teenagers are invincible, after all.
Needless to say, I deeply regret all of it now. That scraping turned out to be basal cell carcinoma. It's the "good" kind of skin cancer because it doesn't metastasize (spread to other parts of the body). That being said, the basal cellwillgrow. Its top is like the tip of the iceberg. It looks seemingly harmless, but the hidden part could sink a ship.
My dermatologist referred me to a specialist—one who is trained in the MOHS procedure. A Dr. Frederic Mohs created the concept, and it's most widely successful (99.8%) for removing basal cell carcinomas (the most common type of skin cancer). The MOHS surgeon deadens the area, digs out a huge hunk, then freezes it, observes it under a microscope, and determines if the margins are cancer free. If they are, the surgeon and the nurse pack the spot, bandage it, and you can go home. If not, they have to revisit the area, dig out another chunk of flesh, freeze and observe it, and determine if the margins are cancer free. You get the idea. My little bump required TWO revisits. Then, they took a little cartilage from behind my left ear and attempted to re-build the little curved part of my nostril. I didn't feel a thing during the procedure. On the way home, however, it hurt like hell.
When I got home, I was fairly unimpressed at the lovely yellow gauze stuff packed in my nose. Apparently my little basal cell had a serious root system that was out for vengeance. The doctor nearly had to punch a hole through my left nostril. There went the pug nose, but the cancer was gone.