Friday, January 29, 2016

A moment of panic, then, just more of the same

What would you think if you looked up the results of a biopsy of a spot on your face and you saw the word "invasion"? Even if it said "superficial blunt-type invasion," wouldn't you be worried? Especially if you had a friend who died after a squamous cell cancer on her tongue spread to the rest of her body?

I was definitely worried when I went to PatientGateway to see why I got an email saying I had a message and then looked up the results from my two biopsies of a couple of weeks ago. Dr. Lin said she would call me with the results; when I didn't hear I figured no news was good news, but then a friend said I should really call, so I was about to but then I saw the test results. It was the first time in all these years that I slipped through the cracks.

Here is what I read:


Part of an actinic keratosis, focally at least bordering on squamous cell
carcinoma in situ.

Part of a SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA, at least in situ.
It is difficult to exclude very superficial blunt-type invasion.

It was early in the morning. Luckily I had the doctor's home address, so I emailed her at home and at work to see what this meant. The words "very superficial" sounded OK, but not coupled with "invasion."

She responded right away, saying she was so sorry she hadn't called and that although those words that I mentioned sounded scary, it isn't that bad but it will need Mohs.

"The nose is ok. Blunt-type invasion sounds like a scary word, but blunt-type is the least worrisome type of invasion. All in all, it’s a pretty low risk lesion, but to be safe, I will be sending you to Mohs."

Mohs is the surgical removal of skin cancers. I have had it before in many places. This one will be on my cheek. The bright side: It is not the one on the top of my nose. It is a better place than two of my others: One on the top of my lip and the other practically on top of my tear duct, which left a hole necessitating a visit to a plastic surgeon who took a piece from my eyelid to cover the hole. She said I was getting an eye lift. I asked if she could even me out by doing the other side (joke) and she said no. I had one on my neck and one on my wrist, also.

I need to make an appointment for a consult with a Mohs surgeon in Boston. 

Another fun thing: In a couple of months I am going to return for another session of the face fry that burns off the top layer of skin and with it the spots that can turn into cancer or that might be early cancer. I have some on my neck, also, so PDT, or photodynamic therapy, will extend onto my neck. This treatment uses photosynthesizing agents along with light to kill cancer cells. It burns worse than a terrible sunburn. Holding a little fan in your hand and waving it around helps, somewhat.

So the year that came off my life when I saw the word "invasive" will be returned to me when I get my new skin.

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