Last week, I went to the doctor to have the annoying growth along my right eye checked, and, because of my overwhelming vanity, removed. The doctor did a great job removing it, very clean. She sent the "skin tag" in for biopsy, out of routine.
Well, for the last few days, there were missed calls on my cell phone from "No ID." I finally was able to pick up on one today.
It was a call from my doctor. The skin tag is cancerous. It's not the agressive type, but rather basal cell carcinoma.
The Most Common Skin Cancer
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, affecting 800,000 Americans each year. In fact, it is the most common of all cancers. One out of every three new cancers is a skin cancer, and the vast majority are basal cell carcinomas, often referred to by the abbreviation, BCC. These cancers arise in the basal cells, which are at the bottom of the epidermis (outer skin layer). Until recently, those most often affected were older people, particularly men who had worked outdoors. Although the number of new cases has increased sharply each year in the last few decades, the average age of onset of the disease has steadily decreased. More women are getting BCCs than in the past; nonetheless, men still outnumber them greatly.
Because the location is right next to something so vital (my eye!), the doctor recommended Mohs Micrographic Surgery to remove all the growth:
The physician removes the visible tumor with a curette or scalpel and then removes very thin layers of the remaining surrounding skin one layer at a time. Each layer is checked under a microscope, and the procedure is repeated until the last layer viewed is cancer-free. This technique has the highest cure rate and can save the greatest amount of healthy tissue. It is often used for tumors that have recurred or are in hard-to-treat places such as the head, neck, hands, and feet.
It's the most time intensive removal, but the best for me because of the location. I'll be heading in next week. The surgery should take all day because of the iterative process.
I'm already really good about sunscreen, but I now need to be even more diligent. I'm a bit surprised at my reaction, which was about 2 minutes of crying, then acceptance. It is what it is. I have work to do, and gardens to plant.