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Posts Tagged ‘Basal cell carcinoma’

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Are you wearing your hat these days? And the Two Degrees of Dr. Richard Bennett and Elisabeth Shim

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Kudos to Dominic Purcell for showing how it is done:
This is how it's done

A little over a year ago, Dr. Bennett was mentioned twice in the international news, the Daily Mail UK, for his work with two actors on network TV. They wanted to show everyone how skin cancer is so common. Today I found out I took care of a teacher at our daughters’ school over a decade ago. How’s that for Back to School Night? I even found a basal cell cancer on Santa Claus! (OK I can’t tell you the details on this one, but trust me, it’s true!) Everyone in LA is 1 or 2 steps removed from our office, I think. It’s better than Kevin Bacon! But Kevin can win this contest if we all make better use of our hats, zinc oxide-based sunscreens and our local dermatologist to screen us for precancers before they need us.

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Posted in Comedy, Entertainment, Mohs surgery, Skin Cancer, sunscreen | No Comments »

The amazing human spirit

Friday, April 4th, 2014

One day on Facebook, I caught wind of a page for a high school classmate of mine called “Cure Eric.” He was in all my classes. I remember a quiet, but always smiling guy who didn’t have a mean bone in his body. I learned he had become a recording engineer, had metastatic colon cancer, and had been suffering for 2 years. Watching his posts was just awe inspiring. While other people are posting pictures about food and their kids, Eric is posting about how he just found out he had new lung or brain mets, and was going to go to the doctor. He never felt sorry for himself, he just talked about how he was looking forward to learning more about what the doctors would do for him. He never failed to keep up his spirits in these posts, and thanked his doctors constantly. Every time we heard about another bout of lung mets, or brain surgery, my medical mind would say, “that was it” but Eric’s courage and positive spirit were truly amazing. He survived through some bouts of illness that defy logic, and I am convinced his fighting, upbeat attitude, even towards the end helped him survive longer and better. Sadly, he was hospitalized for pneumonia recently and passed.

I also recently made a home visit to my patient who was diagnosed with ALS a couple years ago. The last time I saw her she was lying down in a gurney in my office and she was having problems getting nutrition. She hugged me and I thought she was saying goodbye to me. That must have been nearly 8 months ago. The next thing you know, she is sitting up comfortably at home and has a sophisticated computer device set up to converse with me. She is still doing well, although she cannot walk or talk anymore. Life is mysterious and beautiful!

Speaking of mysterious, I had a weird run of 3 melanoma diagnoses in one week. Even the pathologist was surprised. Then there were 2 incidental basal cell carcinomas this week, I just happened to find them even though the patients came in for other reasons. Please don’t hesitate to get yourself checked out!

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Posted in Mohs surgery, Skin Cancer | No Comments »

Spot your own skin cancer

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

As I was reviewing my collection of research articles, I came across an abstract that was presented by some colleagues. They found that most skin cancers they operated on in their practice were discovered by the patient themselves! Get to know what your skin looks like so you can find the subtle changes. Besides the obvious, check your feet, your privates (epidemic of genital warts among my young patients), and go get your eyes and retinas examined by an ophthalmologist if you have had a lot of sun exposure or have a lot of moles. Let a friend or loved one check your back, or if you don’t have anyone, let me do it! It is always best for the dermatologist to do an annual total body skin exam if you have never been examined, or you have a personal or family history of skin cancer.

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Posted in Skin Cancer | No Comments »

Skin cancer incidence

Friday, January 25th, 2013

The Skin Cancer Foundation put out a statement that the incidence of skin cancers is higher than that of breast, lung, colon and prostate combined. This does not include just melanoma, but also non-melanoma skin cancers including basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer. Preventative exams are key! Not only should you have a dermatologist look at you, but get to know what your skin looks like. This can be tough in certain places, so have a loved one help, and/or use two mirrors. Things can change fast. I just had a patient who had a full exam in August, and now has multiple suspicious moles that just popped up in the past 6 months.

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Posted in Skin Cancer, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Do I need Mohs surgery even if my biopsy site healed well?

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

I get asked this almost every week. “But my biopsy site has healed so well. I put……(fill in the blank-emu oil, vitamin E etc) on it and you can hardly see it!

Yes, it is true that sometimes a biopsy will remove the entire lesion if it is very small. However, just as you might get a breast biopsy or prostate biopsy, if you had cancer diagnosed, you would not consider the biopsy to be a treatment.

A biopsy is simply a test, a sampling. Cancer is microscopic and can be one to several cells thick. While this watch and wait approach would be ok on very tiny basal cell cancers on the back, I would not do this on the face or any tumors such as squamous cell carcinoma that have the potential to metastasize.

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Basal Cell & Squamous Cell Carcinoma Affect Almost Everyone

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Here are some alarming statistics regarding skin cancer in the United States:

  • 1 out of 5 Americans will develop skin cancer within their lifetime
  • The two major forms of non-melanoma skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. 40-50% of Americans age 65 and up will have either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma at least once
  • In the last 30 years, the number of women under age 40 diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma has doubled and the number diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma has also increased

Both basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are often diagnosed late because they can look like anything, e.g., a scaly spot, pimple, wart, or cyst, so it is important to have a skin exam.

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Posted in Skin Cancer | No Comments »

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