Basal Skin Cancer – My Recent Experience – Mohs Surgery Procedure
After 20 years of being cancer free from squamous cell carcinoma, suddenly basal skin cancer appeared near my ear. I’m glad to have already known some signs of basal cell carcinoma and some basics of Mohs skin cancer surgery, as that was the treatment recommended by my dermatologist.
Just knowing these simple warning signs, beforehand, and how it can be treated really pays off.
It was last May that I went to a free skin cancer screening. These free screenings are quick and not intended to be thorough. I pointed out to the dermatologist a few spots I was concerned about. She recorded them as actinic keratosis which is `sun damage`. On my request she did a quick full body exam and didn’t see anything suspicious. She told me to make an appointment with a dermatologist to have the sun damage taken care of and for a more complete examination.
I didn’t make an appointment immediately and a very short time later I saw the signs of basal cell carcinoma appear just under my ear at my jaw bone. They appeared very innocent and there was no flashing warning signs on them.
It did pay off to be suspicious of what I was looking at. I saw two little raised spots like a bump or growth that was flesh colored and kind of pearly looking. It felt kind of crusty and would bleed very easy then heal slowly. It was totally painless.
I continued watching them carefully and didn’t make the appointment because I have had unusual things appear on my skin before and then disappear in time.
As I continued to watch these spots I finally was convinced that YES this does REALLY appear to be the signs of basal skin cancer. I made the appointment!
At the appointment, they sprayed the sun damage with liquid nitrogen and after several days it was gone. A biopsy was done on this new spot of concern. About 4 days later the results came back positive. It was definitely basal skin cancer.
I was scheduled for a Mohs surgery procedure. Since I already knew the basics of Mohs surgery, I was happy with the doctor’s decision.
It is performed by a surgeon who is extensively trained in pathology. A Mohs surgeon examines the cancerous tissue as it is removed through a microscope. He continues to scrape away the cancerous tissue little by little until it is 100% gone. Only the cancerous tissue is removed leaving the healthy tissue.
It minimizes chances of re-growth with a better cosmetic appearance.
I was surprised to see when he finished that he had to remove an area that was 3 inches long by my measurement (17 stitches). It was more than what appeared visually to my eye and the examining doctor. The doctor said it was probably caused by my past radiation treatments, in 1990.
I hope anyone who reads this and has anything suspicious at all happening on their skin will grasp the urgency to have it examined by a dermatologist right away. Don’t put if off. Although basal skin cancer grows slow, if left undetected in rare cases it can travel to other parts of the body.