Skin Cancers

thermalben's picture
thermalben started the topic in Monday, 19 Nov 2018 at 10:14am

Couple of weeks back I went for my annual checkup - which I'd missed the last one - and got a little area on my temple checked out that'd been bugging me for a while.

I can't recall the specifics, but am sure a doctor 'froze' off a spot here some time ago, but it simply hasn't healed since - so there's been a perennial scab ever since. And it's been a little stingy too, especially when the scab comes off after a surf.

After some tests on the biopsy (which took a few days), it turns out it was Squamous Cell Carcinoma (also known as Bowen's Disease) - one of the more common skin cancers, which is fortunately confined to the outer layer of skin. So as long as I get it cut out soon I'll be fine. But if left for too long there is a chance it'll spread.

Melanoma is a real risk for surfers. And, things can escalate pretty quickly too, if you're not monitoring things - more than two thousand people die from skin cancer each year in Australia.

As it turns out, this week is National Skin Cancer Action Week 2018. So please go and book in for a check up - there's plenty of skin cancer clinics around the country and many of them bulk bill (so, it doesn't cost you anything).

thermalben's picture
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thermalben commented Monday, 19 Nov 2018 at 10:15am
blindboy's picture
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blindboy commented Monday, 19 Nov 2018 at 11:24am

Good on you Ben I am overdue for a check up!

.cylinders's picture
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.cylinders commented Monday, 19 Nov 2018 at 3:59pm

Timely reminder before summer, having just had another birthday I reckon it's time to shed my blissful ignorance. Thanks mate, hope you get it sorted.

Sheepdog's picture
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Sheepdog commented Monday, 19 Nov 2018 at 4:09pm

Being a melanoma survivor, and a bbc and scc veteran, Scc, is not to be scoffed at (Squamous cell carcinoma).
Yes, "bowens disease" is another term for "superficial squamous cell carcinoma". Basically it means it has developed on what is know as the top superficial layer of skin, and has not grown deep into the epidermis or even worse the dermis layer.
Unlike common basal cell cancers, squamous cell cancers can metastasise , or spread into adjacent glands JUST like melanoma if left untreated.
A dear girl friend of mine had an SCC on her lower lip. The idiot doctors didn't get the clearance right when cutting it out (the amount of surrounding flesh they have to take to be sure they got all the cancer cells). Anyhow, 2 years later, she thought she had a swollen gland in her neck... Ended up being a massive squamous cell tumour, stage 3.
She has survived, but has lost part of her jaw, lip, neck, looks like a car accident victim.
She has to undergo constant check ups every 3 months.

So..... ben...... Dont let it slide in the future. You WILL get more.... And not all cancers grow at the same rate. That one you had seemed like a slow one... I had a basal cell cancer grow like a freekn weed on my collar bone once...
Don't FUCK around.
Get in there and deal with it. That goes for everyone.
You're a long time dead.

Sheepdog

thermalben's picture
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thermalben commented Monday, 19 Nov 2018 at 4:17pm

100% SD.. thanks for the kick up the arse, it is much needed. Sorry to hear about what your friend went through.

I focus's picture
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I focus commented Monday, 19 Nov 2018 at 4:49pm

Hey Ben although SCC's can be slow growing be aware that SCC's can take off after a biopsy get it sorted sooner than later or at least keep a close eye on it.

Mate had one grow 22mm in 14 days

I had one taken out of the calf, innocuous small lump no change in skin color 50mm scar now.

kaiser's picture
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kaiser commented Monday, 19 Nov 2018 at 5:22pm

Had a BCC on back of neck treated about 4 years ago. Skipped next scheduled appt as the skin guy moved away. Found a new one and saw him. Dry sort of a guy who said 'that dot on your back is pretty dark, I'm taking a biopsy'. Next day I get the call to come in. Stage 1 melanoma and a nice little zipper on my back. Since then another BCC and zipper on ribs. I look like I've been in a knife fight.

My advice would be if you get a doctor who says 'keep an eye on that spot and let me know if it changes' tell them to do a biopsy, or find a different doc who will. How can you diagnose otherwise?

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot commented Monday, 19 Nov 2018 at 9:57pm

Scary stuff, cover up people!

Nick Bone's picture
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Nick Bone commented Tuesday, 20 Nov 2018 at 12:52pm

Whats the best way too go for a check up? Mole map? Usual GP? A Specialist?

I am the bone

Rabbits68's picture
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Rabbits68 commented Tuesday, 20 Nov 2018 at 1:01pm

@Nick Bone, I see my regular GP & a skin specialist. Best to get a few pairs of eyes to have a look IMO.

I’ve had two Melanoma removed, one of my calf & one on my upper inner thigh. Both were picked up relatively early which basically saved my life, so my specialists told me. Vigilance is the key with melanoma. Early detection equals excellent outcomes.

Crystal Clear

fuhrious's picture
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fuhrious commented Tuesday, 20 Nov 2018 at 1:07pm

NB if your asking then it’s time to have the check! I’ve had many zappings and some bcc’s removed over the decades. I have two checks a year with a specialist. You’ll need to see your GP to get a referral to a specialist. I’m lucky that the specialist I have is really thorough and he picked up a SCC on my ear that is being removed next week. Best to check and be surfing soon than wishing you had and not be surfing at all.

factotum's picture
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factotum commented Tuesday, 20 Nov 2018 at 4:18pm

Actinic cheilitis.

Scalpel vermilionectomy.

50 stitches.

Tapentadol (sustained release)

Getting the stitches out a week later (with no local) reminded me of this!

And now it's indeed safe!

kaiser's picture
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kaiser commented Tuesday, 20 Nov 2018 at 5:05pm

Jesus, that's quite a procedure Factotum!
Skin Care Clinic Docs are almost always GPs that have a very small amount of extra study regarding skin checks etc. So their knowledge (you could say) is not much better than your average GP. But if that's all they look at, every day, you could say they gain a lot of on the job expertise.
What sort of specialist do you go to, Fuhrious? Dermatologist? Curious for myself...

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fuhrious commented Tuesday, 20 Nov 2018 at 6:17pm

Hi there Kaiser. He’s a skin specialist dermatologist and also accredited in mohs surgery procedure. He’s also a fellow of plastic surgery and a consultant at the Skin Cancer foundation of Australia. He’s really careful with the check ups which gives some peace of mind. Been seeing him for a number of decades.

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CryptoKnight commented Wednesday, 21 Nov 2018 at 7:55am
thermalben's picture
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thermalben commented Wednesday, 21 Nov 2018 at 11:45am

Got the little bugger cut out this morning (had the option for photodynamic therapy, but went for the knife instead). I ain't too good with needles so I can't say it was a lotta fun, but now I'm on the other side I'm relieved to have got it dealt with quickly. Only bummer is I can't surf for a week and a half.

Hopefully this thread has prompted a few of you get a check up. Remember, most skin cancer clinics bulk bill so it doesn't cost you a cent.  

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fuhrious commented Wednesday, 21 Nov 2018 at 12:14pm

Good news mate. Week and a half might seem like a long time but how good will that first wave feel.

thermalben's picture
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thermalben commented Friday, 23 Nov 2018 at 1:42pm

Gotta admit, there was more cuttin' and stitchin' than I expected.

I focus's picture
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I focus commented Friday, 23 Nov 2018 at 4:23pm

Nice face lift Ben mate with Scottish heritage has had a heap chopped out of his face, at 67 years old doesn't have one wrinkle .

Hope they got it all, have you had the results back yet?

Sprout's picture
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Sprout commented Friday, 23 Nov 2018 at 4:36pm

Good reminder mate thanks.

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shoredump commented Friday, 23 Nov 2018 at 4:55pm

Looks painful @thermalben, you’re going to have a mean scar. I’d be giving it maximum rest. When we’ve had discussions earlier this year about wave quality, the reason I talked about June pumping was because it coincided with a similar looking surgery, but on one of my pectorals. I just felt I couldn’t paddle with my muscle having been separated, for all of June. I watched plenty a session from dry land. Then as soon as I was ready to go, it went flat for all of July. Good luck with the healing and top work spreading the news

nomad1's picture
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nomad1 commented Friday, 23 Nov 2018 at 7:14pm

Ive been living in Norway for a while and I'm not really convinced too many of the local doctors are really the best at ID'ing skin cancers. But then when ive to Aus and got a proper check up then ive always got the all clear. I have realised though that I'm really not that good at recognising what spots I need to keep an eye on. A couple times ive thought something didnt look right and the doctors dismissed it right away.

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot commented Friday, 23 Nov 2018 at 9:20pm

Nickbone I go to Mole Map in Frankston once a year

seaslug's picture
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seaslug commented Friday, 23 Nov 2018 at 10:30pm

Hi Ben, can you share your reasons for going for surgical rather than photodynamic, cost? % success rate. I've got a non invasive (at this stage) SCC recently diagnosed on my ear and have been offered both. Costs for both are similar, success rate slightly higher on surgical removal, nothing back from medicare on photodynamic.

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seaslug commented Saturday, 24 Nov 2018 at 1:05am

Hi Furious , how are you planning to have the SCC on your ear removed?

fuhrious's picture
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fuhrious commented Saturday, 24 Nov 2018 at 12:36pm

Hey there Seaslug it’s getting cut out and the docs doing a skin graft. He’s got to find somewhere that’s not sun affected for the graft. We both laughed when he said that!!

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seaslug commented Saturday, 24 Nov 2018 at 5:30pm

Hi Fuhrious, thanks for that. Yes same problem, she's taking about using my earlobe. She also suggested photodynamic therapy instead of surgery

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fuhrious commented Saturday, 24 Nov 2018 at 5:43pm

Hi Seaslug I’m in on Tuesday for the surgery. I’ll talk to the doc about PDT as an alternative and get back to you with his thoughts.

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seaslug commented Saturday, 24 Nov 2018 at 6:04pm

Cheers Fuhrious, appreciate 2nd opinion from yourself. Costs for both are similar (around $1500), success rate quoted bit higher on surgical removal, nothing back from medicare on photodynamic.

Lammie's picture
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Lammie commented Sunday, 25 Nov 2018 at 3:50pm

Cant agree more with Sheepdog.
Beware.
I had a SCC that blew up on my cheek, went from a small dot to the size of a raspberry in 2 weeks. I had my GP remove it and healed up after a 60 mm cut with 12 stitches. Pathology report said there was a 1mm margin on tumour. All good.
6 months later I found a lump on my neck which took me 2 months to get diagnosed properly. On diagnosis I was booked in for surgery the next day for the removal of my Perotid gland and associated lymph nodes.
Cut goes from top of my ear, down my neck to my adam's apple. SCC tumour the size of my fist.
My face is now numb in surgery area, I had massive radiation therapy which was worse than the surgery. Face melted off with radiation burns, mouth full of ulcers, nerves in teeth dead etc etc.
That was 3 years ago, I am surfing again, on a SUP now but that's as much as I can manage.
It has been a long road from just a spot on my cheek which I thought was just hacked out and a cut to deal with.
Beware, it is not just Melanoma that is bad.
Don't forget the sunscreen.

redmondo's picture
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redmondo commented Monday, 26 Nov 2018 at 8:13pm

Serious incision, all the best for your recovery.

Victory!

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Andybox commented Tuesday, 27 Nov 2018 at 7:48pm

Had a biopsy on my lower lip a few months ago. White stripe down the middle, needle stung like a bitch. Came back negative but the stripe has returned. I’m 52, surfed since I was 11. Shit like this worries me.

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seaslug commented Tuesday, 27 Nov 2018 at 9:39pm

Andybox. Know what you mean, hurt hey. I had a biopsy done on my lower lip many years ago. My lips have suffered terribly over the years, burnt and blistered when I was young. My suggestion would be go and get it checked again, maybe going to someone else

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fuhrious commented Wednesday, 28 Nov 2018 at 3:30pm

Gday Seaslug. Had the SCC removed yesterday plus the graft. Asked the doc about the PDT vs cutting. He said cutting provides best results. Surgery included graft taken from neck area just below ear plus he cut through the skin near the ear hole to clean up some cartilage that had become roughed up due to previous freezing for keratosis. Not much fun but good news is stitches out next Monday and hoping to be back getting salty a week later. Hope ya well mate and get it done as soon as you can.

Sheepdog's picture
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Sheepdog commented Wednesday, 28 Nov 2018 at 5:27pm

Lammie, wishing you all the best with it..
And Factotum, I had a similar experience re' lip.. Had soooo many frozen off it was ridiculous. Ended up getting a "pdt" treatment, which sort of cleaned it up. BUT....
On the inside of the lip , where it turns from dry lip to wet inner mouth (the mucosa), the pdt could not reach..... Anyhooooo, Just one or 2 rogue cells remained ( which i didn't know).
Time went by... I asked a gp in Coolum about these 2 strange "darker red" areas just inside my lower lip.... He said "vitamin b deficiency"..... Cool....
Time went By...... Moved to Tasmania.... One of the red patches ulcerated one day.... So I went to the Dover medical centre.... Anyhooooooo........ Biopsies.......... 2 Superficial basal cell carcinomas had developed right on the mucosa line...
I had 2 options from a brilliant dermatologist in Hobart......
1 - what you are going through
2- unorthodox use of a chemo cream called "aldara" for 6 weeks.
I chose 2.......... OMFG ....... The worse 6 weeks of my life... Worse than the melanoma.. The aldara at night would seep down my throat into my gut.. I honestly considered ending it and getting my lip amputated.. I was so ill.... Vomiting. I could only eat smoothies. My lip was a fucking festering muck of rotten mince.
But it worked. It was 2011. No issue on my lip since touch wood.
Below is a pic of my lip at the worse stage of the aldara treament.

Sheepdog

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot commented Wednesday, 28 Nov 2018 at 5:34pm

Far out Sheepy that’s intense. The pain from that must of been unbelievable. Fuck dude that’s horrible thing to go through, good to hear nothing since then

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Wednesday, 28 Nov 2018 at 6:56pm

That’s crazy.

Fingers crossed it’s over , Sheepy.

redmondo's picture
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redmondo commented Thursday, 29 Nov 2018 at 6:30pm

I'm booked in for a check. Had dream about it then Ben, s message.

Victory!

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upnorth commented Thursday, 29 Nov 2018 at 9:07pm

Good call redmondo, make your next appointment while you are there.
I didn't even see mine, the Mrs spotted a small reddish moley looking thing on my right thigh but I wasn't concerned, seemed nothing to me and I assumed it had always been there. After some pestering I booked in and the doc wasn't concerned either, happy to leave it in fact. The Mrs wanted it off, I was on the docs side thinking about a week or so out of the water but she got her way, case closed as far as I was concerned. We were a couple of weeks away from the arrival of our first child and all was well with the world.

A week later I got a call from the doc asking me to come in that day, he was noticeably less relaxed this time and during our visit blurted out that he'd seen people with melanoma like these have another 5 years. He had my attention and a few days later I was down in Brisbane for a wide excision and a sentinel node biopsy. Apparently it was in a good place as they could go deep, left me with an 8 inch scar and a part of my leg that is now concave where it was once convex.

The following morning, feeling the effects of the general and needing to stop every 15 minutes to throw up, a mate gave me a lift north in time to see our little boy come into the world. I remember sitting in a waiting room, still punch drunk, sweating buckets and with the lego movie blasting out of a big tv on the wall thinking this is fucking weird.

A couple of weeks later we got the news that the biopsy showed no signs of the melanoma spreading, relief. Just finished my three monthly check ups and am now onto six monthly, so far so good. I've had a couple of biopsies on suspicious marks but nothing to report.

So yeah, get the check ups even if you aren't particularly worried. Australia and northern European skin can be a bad combination but the upside to melanoma being so prevalent is that treatment is cutting edge (no pun intended), the sentinel lymph node biopsy for example is only just being adopted in other countries.

redmedicine's picture
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redmedicine commented Wednesday, 9 Jan 2019 at 1:04pm

Factotum, did your vermilionectomy heal up ok/does your ‘new’ lip look and feel alright now?

I’m probably gonna have to have the same procedure done, not because of cancer, long story...

factotum's picture
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factotum commented Thursday, 10 Jan 2019 at 2:09pm

Cool moniker, Red Medicine. Fugazi fan?

Anyway, re: vermilionectomy, can't even tell it happened to look at. Felt like someone punched me in the mouth, but that numbness feeling is gradually residing over time. As my surgeon said.

He was a gun. 50 very neat stitches were well worth the pain.

And not getting any sort of cancer is a no-brainer.

redmedicine's picture
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redmedicine commented Friday, 11 Jan 2019 at 3:59am

Definitely a Fugazi fan, they were a pretty big gateway for me into punk/ hardcore as well. That a Bukowski ref in yours?

Thanks for getting back to me about the vermilionectomy, that’s reassuring to hear.

factotum's picture
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factotum commented Monday, 14 Jan 2019 at 5:29pm

No probs. Trust it all goes well.

Yeah, Bukowski fan as well as the dictionary definition hitting the spot.