Friday, September 27, 2013

Bruce Jenner's nose recently revealed that Bruce Jenner has been diagnosed with and treated for skin cancer on his nose.  Click to read article.  The type of skin cancer is called basal cell carcinoma.  It is not a form of melanoma.  It's one of the three types of skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma).

And it's the most common type of skin cancer, in fact.  According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, an estimated 2.8 million are diagnosed annually in the US (Click on their site for great info).  It tends to show up on sun exposed areas, like the nose, ears, and chest.  Although it almost always is limited to the skin, basal cell carcinoma can be locally destructive if not treated.

Depending on the type and location of the basal cell carcinoma, different treatment options can be used.  Superficial types may be treated with a cream called imiquimod that is applied 5 times a week for 6 weeks.  Or, a scraping procedure called electrodessication and curettage (ed&c) can be performed in the dermatologist's office.  Larger or infiltrative basal cells can be excised in the office under local anesthesia by the dermatologist.  Very large basal cells, or ones located on the nose, lips, ears, or close to the eyes, where there is not a lot of tissue available, may be removed by the Mohs procedure.  This is a special type of skin cancer surgery where tissue is removed and checked under the microscope while the patient is still in the office.  Once the Mohs surgeon has determined that all the skin cancer has been removed, the area is stitched up.  Mohs surgery has a very high cure rate.  Usually dermatologists who perform this procedure have an additional year of training after residency to become experts in Mohs.  This is the treatment Bruce Jenner had.    

Once someone has had one basal cell carcinoma, they are 50% more likely to develop a second one.  As this type of skin cancer is directly related to sun exposure, protecting your skin from the sun is a great way to prevent their development.  Proper sunscreen use of a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunblock is essential.  Clothing, such as hats and shirts, that are specially treated to have a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) of 50+ can really help protect your skin from the sun.  

Any bump that doesn't go away, bleeds, itches, crusts, or grows needs to be seen by a dermatologist to make sure it's not a skin cancer ASAP.  Remember, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.  "Keep up" with of your skin - it's the only one you have!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Donna! My husband recently had one removed. It was scary:(