Skin Cancer/Melanoma Questions

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 07, 2008 6:48 PM GMT
    Has anyone here had skin cancer of any kind? Care to share your story? How did it manifest? How did you manage the proper diagnosis?
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    Dec 07, 2008 8:19 PM GMT
    Yeah, I had a melanoma on the back of my left shoulder. It just looked like a really large mole, but when I was visiting my mom, who's a dermatologist, she saw it and had me schedule an appointment with another dermatologist since she thought it was growing too quickly to be normal. Sure enough... it was a Clark type I, which just means it was shallow. They removed it and all the skin within a centimeter, so now I have a big scar. It was a fairly quick, out-patient procedure (much easier than my other surgery that semester... oi), but now I need check-ups every 6 months.
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    Dec 07, 2008 8:25 PM GMT
    i've had five BCCs (basal cell carcinomas) removed. they are the most benign skin cancer, usually presenting as a small sore that won't heal. some have 'rolled, pearly borders' with ulcerated centers... not all do. common on the ears, shoulders, face and sun-exposed areas.

    more concerning than BCCs are SCCs (squamous cell carcinomas), usually presenting first as a pre-cancer called AKs (actinic keratoses). AKs are often 'rough', scaly, sometimes reddened areas on sun-exposed skin that progress to ulcerations if left untreated. not all AKs progress to SCCs, and not all SCCs present on sun-exposed skin (e.g. SCCs develop in the anal canal due to exposure to HPV, a very common condition in gay men... get an anal PAP!).

    worst type is melanoma, an aggressive type of skin cancer that can metastasize rapidly. once mets are found, prognosis is not good.

    always check the ABCDEs of any skin lesion. is the lesion Asymmetrical, are the Borders nondistinct and irregular, are the Colors unusual and not skin-like, is the lesion's Diameter relatively large and is it Elevated? if more of these criteria are met, the lesion is more concerning.
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    Dec 07, 2008 8:27 PM GMT
    Yes, I had a squamous cell cancer. I thought it was an ingrown hair, or a wart. It didn't look gnarly at all. I stupidly left it there for a year....and when I finally asked my doc about it, he sent me to a dermatologist.

    They cut it off (rather than froze it) because she wanted to do a biopsy. It turned out to be malignant, but the body had created a hardened shell around the bottom of it, thus walling it off. So it had not metastasized and I didn'd need extra skin removed.

    However, they want me back once per year for a complete body scan.
  • bradsmith

    Posts: 175

    Dec 08, 2008 4:06 AM GMT
    Yep, Basal Cell a couple years ago. Had Mohs surgery to remove it. They use a local anesthetic, then carve away, checking the removed skin cells until they're not removing any more cancerous cells. This was a discolored area in front of my left became 3 dimensional...was in for a regular check and doc suggested having a dermatologist look at it. They cut it off and sent it for an examination and culture. Was cancerous, then went back in for the Mohs surgery a week later! I joke that I got half a face lift out of that!

    Started 6 month checkups, then annual...then last summer I noticed a red circle on my right cheek. Had my dermatologist look at it, she said it was Actinic Keratoses, in the very early stage. She froze it off during the visit. Had a 6 month checkup last week, no other problems. I would be careful to monitor your skin in the most vulnerable areas (face, shoulders, hands, arms, chest) for any unusual looking area. You can find links online with pictures of specific types of skin cancers at various stages...I've been lucky, no significant problems...hope it stays that way!