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Posts Tagged ‘melanoma pasadena’

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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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Our new waiting room

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Thanks to our loyal patients for putting up with our waiting room in Suite 570 for all these years. Here’s the new look! Also, I know some people loved the stained glass ceiling in Suite 520, some thought it was god awful. It is now gone because we needed better lighting and I had a patient who loved to have it, thankfully. I didn’t want it to go to waste.

Melanoma rates in children have risen. Melanoma deaths in male baby boomers is twice that of female baby boomers. An article of mine on sun and melanoma was recently cited in a new article in the June 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology entitled, “Melanoma Death Prevention.”

Recently I had a patient come in after 7 years. It has been that kind of year. Luckily for him, he came in. I found a melanoma in-situ on his back. His prognosis is excellent. I love my job!

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Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

May is the month of Melanoma Awareness and Don’t Fry Day. The latter day was created by Dr. Jeff Ashley through his non-profit organization Sun Safety for Kids. This organization promotes sun safety awareness to children and their schools. I sit on the executive board of this organization. If you know of any teachers who would be interested in educational materials for their students or any members of the PTA who are on their school safety committees, please have them visit sunsafetyforkids.org

Although we all tend to protect ourselves more during the summer months, a friendly reminder that even UVA rays penetrate through clouds. The scary thing is that we are all exposed to flourescent lighting and now, UV-C lighting in our workplace and home, and we tend to forget our constant exposure in these settings as well.

At the same time, I have read that the JAMA has published that surgery for nonmelanoma skin cancers may not be beneficial for certain elderly patients. While I agree that treating a skin cancer on someone who has a life expectancy of less than one year may not make sense, we have treated a number of very elderly patients in our practice and have contributed to their well-being and comfort. Dr. Bennett recently saw a 108 year old, who saw him when she was 98, asking if her skin cancer should be treated! Today I spoke to a patient who lost 2 friends not to melanoma, but to squamous cell carcinoma. Dying from SCC is not a pleasant way to go, particularly of the head and neck. In some cases it is miserable and difficult to watch someone losing the ability to chew, speak, talk and swallow. What I am afraid of is our loss of access to a good procedure like Mohs surgery which, while expensive, does provide the highest rate of cure for skin cancer treatment. Mohs surgery is not necessary for all tumors in all locations, at the same token. An ethical and competent dermatologist should be able to steer one in the right direction when it comes to treatment. Make sure you know all of your options and why a treatment may be recommended to you. I have seen cases where Mohs surgery should have been done, and had not been recommended, to the opposite, where Mohs was probable overkill, and should only have been done if the patient had chosen that option.

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Even fish get skin cancer

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

There was an interesting story in the LA Times about Australian trout that get melanomas. Also, there is a new free app called UMskincheck which was developed at the Univ of Michigan to follow moles. I haven’t checked it out yet, but it should be interesting. Whether or not it would change biopsy rates is yet to be seen. I have biopsied moles that look scary and they’re completely benign and others that are tiny, but dark, and found melanomas or near melanomas. It is important to get a regular screening and get to know your own moles and growths to watch for changes.

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Melanoma Monday

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Mayo Clinic just announced results of a long study on residents in Minnesota. Between 1970 and 2009, the incidence of melanoma went up 9 times for young women, and 4 times for young men. Also, the Skin Cancer Foundation announced that one person dies of melanoma every hour.

A skin cancer exam is a very important part of one’s general health check-up. Many melanomas can be subtle or very small.

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