Thursday, August 28, 2008

Back to the Doctor

As most of you know I've been seeing doctors alot more than I'd like this year. I broke my femur in January and now carry a titanium rod and a couple of screws in my leg. I feel I've recovered fully from that and I've been back on the road logging as many miles as I can work into my schedule. I thought I'd seen the last of doctors for the rest of the year, but I was wrong. While on vacation in Canada earlier this month with my daughters I noticed a new growth on my face an inch or so under my left eye. Since I have a cousin who died from melanoma, I watch my skin carefully and go to the dermatologist once a year. I've had many skin tags removed over the years, mostly on my face and neck. I know what the harmless ones look like and this new growth was different. As soon as I got back home I saw my dermatologist. He removed it and told me to call back in ten days for lab results. Ten days came and went and I didn't hear from him so I began to assume as was well. On the eleventh day, reason prevailed over my assumptions and I forced myself to make the call. The doctor called me back within five minutes to tell me that the growth he removed was a squamous cell carcinoma. The next day found me back in his office where he enlarged the original wound with some additional cutting, scraping and burning. I must return in six weeks.

Squamous and basal cell carcinoma are the two most common skin cancers and rarely spread. Squamous cell carcinoma is the more dangerous of the two since it can metastisize if not treated. Both of these skin cancers are most common on areas exposed to the sun. I've been using sun screen these last 10 years that I've been riding regularly, but the doctor tells me my skin cancer is the result of 60 years of sun damage. I'll be fine, but I worry about my riding friends who don't use any sun screen at all.

For more information on skin cancer go here. WARNING: some of the pictures are graphic.