I’ve now had my sixth skin biopsy. Getting old is tough!
Back in 2005 I had two skin biopsies for “troublesome spots”, and ultimately had to have two melanoma spots removed, one from the left side of my back, and another on the back side of my upper left forearm.
My Dermatologist, Dr. Mindy Powell, and my Primary Care Physician, Dr. Leonard Fieber — both based in Tucson — kept me coming back every year or so for re-examinations, to make sure nothing new was cropping up. In that time I had one or two small spots “frozen” (no, it’s nothing like in the Disney movie), but more for nuisance abatement than anything else.
Unfortunately while living in Arizona City (near Casa Grande, about half way between Tucson and Phoenix), I wasn’t quite as diligent about going for annual check-ups. And well, to be honest, Drs. Powell and Fieber wanted me to be going every six months — but I was doing good to go about once a year.
After moving to Phoenix, I had some issues settling down with a new Primary Care Physician (see this story for more details). But now I’m all hooked up with One Medical, with Dr. Fieber providing assistance in getting in-network referrals through our health care program.
So during my first skin check-up in about 2 years, they found two more spots that needed biopsied. Both were on my chest; one near the collar bone midway between my neck and armpit, and one lower down, a bit closer to the breastbone. One turned out to be squamous cell carcinoma, the other a basal cell carcinoma. Both of those are skin cancers, but not as bad as the first two, which were melanomas. Still, they had to be removed.
The excision of the melanomas was an in-office procedure, with a section of skin removed along with all the tissue all the way down to the fascia of the underlying muscle. Stitches were involved; in fact, stitches underneath, stitched in between, and stitches on top. Close to an hour for each procedure.
The excision for smaller, less metastasizing cancers like squamous cell and basal cell, can be done with a procedure known as desiccation and curettage. Basically, the affected area is numbed, and then scraped and cauterized several times in succession. No stitches, just some ointment and a band aid. So that’s how my chest carcinomas were handled.
But during the excision process for them, the Dr. Neil Fernandes decided that another spot needed to be biopsied. This one was smaller, but on the side of my upper right arm. A couple of weeks ago I got the results back from that: another squamous cell carcinoma. And today, that was removed as well.
Once again Dr. Fernandes found a troublesome spot, one on my forehead. So after the excision of the squamous cell carcinoma on my arm, he performed a scraping biopsy on this spot on my forehead.
“You’ll hear from us in about a week”. I’ve heard that before.
Update: So I heard back, and yes, biopsy #6 revealed another squamous cell carcinoma. I’m supposed to hear from the dermatology clinic’s Mohs team in a week or so to schedule the removal.