Saturday, February 07, 2015

Mole Biopsy Results are in I have Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Or in the vernacular I have skin cancer. But a very benign form of cancer especially caught this early.

The dermatologist said it would take 10-14 days for the results of the biopsy to come back. I waited for the dermatologist to contact me. I finally called on Wednesday to get the results.

Turns out they’d been trying to call me too. The number I left for them to call was my home number. They tried to call me a couple of times last week they said. That means my home phone was out of commission much longer than the one or two day that I thought. Also turns out it didn’t take the 10-14 days to get the results either if they had results last week. The things that surprises me that they didn’t try another number. 

Finally we connected and here’s what I learned. I have what is called Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

Here’s the medical low down on it:

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising in the squamous cells, which compose most of the skin’s upper layers (the epidermis). SCCs often look like scaly red patches, open sores, elevated growths with a central depression, or warts; they may crust or bleed. They can become disfiguring and sometimes deadly if allowed to grow. An estimated 700,000 cases of SCC are diagnosed each year in the US.

From the Mayo Clinic:
Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is a common form of skin cancer that develops in the thin, flat squamous cells that make up the outer layer of the skin.

Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is usually not life-threatening, though it can be aggressive in some cases. Untreated, squamous cell carcinoma of the skin can grow large or spread to other parts of your body, causing serious complications.

I thought it might be cancerous because I had a strong feeling the mole had changed shape and part of it had gotten darker in color. At least I think that’s what happened. Because of where it is on my neck it was really had to get a good look at in a mirror.

Another reason I thought it might be cancer is I am the perfect candidate for getting skin cancer. Fair skinned, history of sun burns growing up, used a tanning bed many many years ago (which in retrospect was a really stupid idea). I’ve been careful these past few years to put on sun screen and wear a hat but I’m not completely shocked that I got this.

The woman I talked to at the dermatologist said this was a mild form of skin cancer. She said I’d need to have an additional procedure on the area to get the rest of the cancer. I asked how soon I should have this done and she said in the next couple of months. So there is no great rush in getting it done which points to the fact that most of it was cut out when the mole was removed.

There were two options for me to choose from. One involved getting stitches which I’d have for a couple of weeks. I didn’t like that idea because of where it was on my neck. The collar of my shirts rub right up against the spot. Having that done to stitches for two weeks just didn’t appeal to me. So I’m going to go with this:

Electrodesiccation and curettage (ED and C). ED and C treatment involves removing the surface of the skin cancer with a scraping instrument (curet) and then searing the base of the cancer with an electric needle. This treatment is often used for very small squamous cell cancers of the skin.

It can leave a slightly larger scar but I’m not all that concerned about it.

I’m going to be able to use the same appointment I have in February where they were going to look at my spots to have the procedure done. I asked if that was possible and the woman said they can just expand it.

The moral of the story is if you think a mole has changed either in size, shape or color get yourself to a dermatologist to have it checked out. 

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