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Posts Tagged ‘melanoma’

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Skin Cancer Awareness month

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

HAPPY PLACE


YUM

Skin Cancer Awareness month is coming to an end and another Don’t Fry Day has passed. Shielding your skin from the sun, however, is a year-round project here in LA. I cannot emphasize to you enough how important it is to wear a hat, sunscreen and get regular exams. Even though younger people may not notice any problems before their 50’s, these problems do accelerate as we get older especially in those with any Celtic heritage. That being said my patients are of all ethnicities and skin types. Many people who think their “Mediterranean” skin will protect them seem to forget that their heritage may have other skin types that make them more susceptible to skin cancer. Even people with Asian and African-American backgrounds can get skin cancer. It is very common in those with HIspanic backgrounds as well. In ethnic skin types, I see these cancers being missed until they’ve gotten to a substantial size. I’ve caught quite a few melanomas on routine exam even though these patients had no prior history, no other skin cancers and normal exams in the past.

I have not been as active on this blog for many months but hope to get back into it. I’ve been more active on my Twitter account @drshim_derm which I never thought would be enjoyable but I’ve found some great people to follow. I only started that to follow my kid’s classroom not realizing it would be my practice’s main source of social media. I hope you can follow me there as well! I plan to post at least once to twice a month here as well though! I’ll have to find weird moments to do it, like at 4 in in the morning. This I think, is becoming my new normal. I’m only awake now because I’ve been worried sick that my cat got eaten by a coyote while we were out of town. We looked everywhere for her this afternoon, but alas, she came out of nowhere at 3 in the morning to welcome us back and now cannot stop talking to me!

We paid a visit to San Francisco where I lived way back when. My kids really did not want to go, but I was touched that one of my girls edited my photo. I guess she had a good time! I highly recommend a trek out to the Sutro baths where there is a new parking lot and visitor’s center, have this incredibly awesome Little Gem salad at Sutro’s in the lower level of the Cliff House. Make a trek for ice cream at Swenson’s and if you have energy, take a walk at Tennessee Valley trail in Marin, a flat, but 1 hour long walk each way. The hike is too long for most elementary school kids (I think I’ve turned my kids off from hiking, even longer than Runyon) but I did see quite a few people out with their kids. The path is mainly, but not entirely paved, and not too far from the Buckeye Roadhouse in Mill Valley where I recommend you sit in a booth in the bar area.

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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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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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