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Treating Basal-Cell Cancer: A Friend's Experience.

Updated on July 15, 2012

Basal-Cell Cancer rarely spreads, but can do extensive local damage

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Rather advanced basal-cell lesion will probably call for reconstructive suregeryAnother of the basal type H. had, but more advancedCringe, guys!  Don't leave Willie out in the sun!Cross section of skin, the basal cells are towards the bottom layer of the dermis.  Like a garden with all the follicules and sweat nodules, etc.
Rather advanced basal-cell lesion will probably call for reconstructive suregery
Rather advanced basal-cell lesion will probably call for reconstructive suregery
Another of the basal type H. had, but more advanced
Another of the basal type H. had, but more advanced
Cringe, guys!  Don't leave Willie out in the sun!
Cringe, guys! Don't leave Willie out in the sun!
Cross section of skin, the basal cells are towards the bottom layer of the dermis.  Like a garden with all the follicules and sweat nodules, etc.
Cross section of skin, the basal cells are towards the bottom layer of the dermis. Like a garden with all the follicules and sweat nodules, etc.

If you have the money, treating skin cancer can be routine

.The following account is the actual operation a dear friend of mine experienced this week and told to me in three emails which I have patched together and have her permission to publish on HP.The surgery was for removal of a basal-cell carcinoma of the temple area; the cancer had been detected approximately 4 years ago, but left until another doctor pointed out that it should be taken care of.Basal-cell skin cancers are not normally life-threatening, but most do continue to grow slowly. This means that at some stage, especially on the face, such radical surgery to remove them will be needed that plastic surgery may also follow to hide ugly scarring.The Mohs procedure (see Wikipedia, etc.) has been around for a good many years now and is recommended when several biopsies may be required to indicate to the surgeon how much cutting he needs to do to eliminate every last cancer cell. These cancers have “roots,” or, as H. says, ‘fingers, which also have to be eliminated.

Here is H’s story, told in her own vivid manner, of her not too unpleasant day in a Dallas hospital. Certain names have been disguised for obvious reasons. Note: None of the pictures added to this hub are of the author, H.

"Well I am back in one piece...but a little lighter. Quite a big piece taken out of me...bout the size of a quarter in diameter...but do not know exactly how deep he is 4:30 and we just got back a little while ago.

It was as good an experience as it could be...all the nurses and the doctor were exceptionally nice and friendly and it was a pleasure being round them.

We got there early and were the second ones to be called in so was sitting in the surgery chair by 7:30am. Doc came in and introduced himself and proceeded to volunteer all kinds of information about my condition and about Basal Cell in general and the dangers and effects of not getting it treated promptly...He agreed that it is not a lethal cancer...and is very slow growing...but will definitely always keep growing...both downwards...and also OUTWARDS...and therefore if you wait to have them removed you will risk ending up with a grotesque scar...specially on the face. If you do not get them early then you risk needing such a deep cut that you would need skin grafting and sometimes even cosmetic surgery...

The nurse proceeded to prepare my face...injected the entire some of my hair off!...(I THINK it is ok...but won't know for sure how much she took off till all the bandages are off tomorrow)...and did a whole slew of other prep work that I could only feel and not see what she was doing. She took photos...and then Doc came back in to do his thing...

He examined it and started drawing on the area...and marking off different areas...which I later found out through him...that were areas he could see through his special microscope glasses… that were cancerous...then he started cutting...and cutting...and cutting...Yikes! I could see later when the nurse showed me my OWIE - (ouch) that he made a hole about the size of a quarter...

Then he did all kinds of treatment to the wound...including using some kind of what the nurse called a vacuum which had to be grounded by putting my leg onto a steel stop me from being electrocuted! Then the nurse dressed it with a temp dressing...and sent me into the waiting room for a couple of hours to wait for the results of the biopsy of what he cut out.

Finally the nurse called me back in and said all the cancer had been taken out with the one cut...and now she had to do more injections in the wound to numb it...and get it all cleaned up and prepped for the Doc to do his needlework. The prep work was extensive with all kinds of applications of who knows what...including my hair being gelled back so nothing was in the way.

Doc came in...and sewed on me for at least 20 minutes! I asked how many stitches...and neither doc nor the nurse had a clue...just LOTS! He first stitched tiny miniature stitches INSIDE the wound...and then closed up the wound all the way from my eye to the hairline...with more miniature stitches...dozens and dozens of em! Then he did all kinds of pressing and wiping...and more vacuuming...and finally said I was good to go...but not till he spent a few minutes with some friendly chatter before he left...very nice man...ideal kind of person to be a doc.

The nurses (Two of them) then gave me my walking papers and instructions...WHOLE procedure took 4 hours...and believe me they earned their money...

I am supposed to ice this every 20 minutes....gotta watch the clock cos it is important to keep the swelling down so the stitches hold and so it will not scar...

No pain besides the initial prick of the needle when the girl was numbing the site...she warned me it would not be pleasant...but I tell ya...the dentists needle is MUCH I have no complaints!

Only one cancerous lesion...and he was able to get it with the one cut, anyway...he has been trained in cosmetic surgery and assured me that my owie would heal in no time...and there would be minimal scaring if any.

He said I could wear makeup on it after one week when the stitches dissolve...I have to leave the Pressure Pak on for 24 hours...keep it dry...then after 24 I can shower and wash it all off with Dial Soap and from then on for a week I have to put Antibiotic Cream on twice a day and keep it covered with a patch. Can not BEND...LIFT more than 10 lbs...or do any form of exercise for three days.

He has all the sophisticated equipment to be 100% sure there is absolutely ZERO cancer left...I am totally confident about that...The whole process of Mohs cutting layers...viewing on microscope what they take see if there are FINGERS going deeper than the cut...and if so...then they take another slice. But he took plenty with my first cut and was able to see when he did the BIOPSY...that there were NO FINGERS penetrating through the cut flesh...and he could also see with his special microscopic glasses just how wide he had to cut... which was way wider than what the red patch indicated...then all was mapped out precisely...very intricately...this was no hash job believe me. He knows exactly and precisely where all the bits of flesh he cuts come from...and he biopsied every part of it! He said when he does the biopsy...he has to actually VIEW...EVERY SINGLE CELL...of the entire portion of flesh that he cuts out...and he KNOWS exactly where it comes from...from the mapping he does BEFORE he cuts...

This is an EXACT SCIENCE...not anything like the other quickie options...In any event...he was more than generous...When J. and I went to pay...the nurse said ...well that procedure is $2,900!!!.Well then she says without batting an eyelid...but Doctor S. said he would do it for $1,0025...and he apologizes but that is the very best he is able to do as he can not charge less than Medicaid... So...the four hours of professional attention and surgery and biopsies was only a tad over $1,000 which I thought was exceptionally cheap for the time I was given by an obviously first class doctor in a first class facility...

So...that was about the end of it I think...not an unpleasant day at all...a bit tiring waiting in the waiting room while the biopsy is being done...but other than that I was waited on head an foot! . I gotta go do my next ICING! Jeepers this is gonna be the most difficult part of the experience!!!"


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    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Thanks "Spirit and all others who have commented on this unpretentious article.


    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 5 years ago from Isle of Man

      Another excellent hub, and one in which you give the reader a wonderful insight into this great character who is your friend.

      I am also particularly impressed by the positive suggestions given by the surgeon ... "and assured me that my owie would heal in no time...and there would be minimal scaring if any. He said I could wear makeup on it after one week when the stitches dissolve"...

      Doctors are authority figures who can kill a patient with their words regardless of how well they operated. Thank you Bob.

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 5 years ago from Orange County, California

      This must have been a tough hub to write. My husband has had basal cell carcinoma, so I know what your friend is experiencing!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Hi Bob - I was glued to your hub and your friend did a great job telling her story. This is a real "eye-opener" and I'm grateful for this information. She has a great attitude. I wish her a speedy recovery and best wishes in the future.

      Whenever I read anything about cancer I think of my beautiful son who tried to beat his own fight with testicular cancer and lost.

      Thanks, Bob.

    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Siess 5 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      an amazing Hub..the photos were shocking and educational. You really help the public when you write these was especially helpful to see the cell in its early stages. My best to this brave survivor!! My Grandmother had cancer 3 times, the last time was skin.

    • profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago

      Thanks, Pamela


    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 5 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      Your friend is brave. It's nice of her to share this experience which is helpful to many people. Nice of you, too. G'day.

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 5 years ago from Central United States of America

      Helpful information for many. I had a tiny basal cell removed from my upper cheek many years ago...frozen and cut. Probably before MOHs, and one side came back a bit later to be re-frozen. Interesting presentation, and kudos to H.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Thanks for comment Jod: The person mentioned in this article is on a very high path of thought and would consider your remarks appropriate.


    • profile image

      jod jones 5 years ago

      basal cell

      Postby jod » Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:57 am

      Read the Lotus Sutra interpreted by Nichiren Daishonin best English translation by Burton Watson, it shows a better path to take in life you can find it in the internet.

      In Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism it explains why people get cancer and other terrible illnesses but by being accountable or responsibility for our thoughts actions and deeds then we will not be slandering ourselves and we will not get sick. This process can take as long as a person wants, life is a continuation of being born and eventually dying whether it is old age or any other reason and then we come back again with different life condition such as a person may come back from the highest world Buddhahood to the lowest hell; I am making it very short but it is a very profound process.



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    • bell du jour profile image

      bell du jour 5 years ago from Ireland

      Hi Bob, I read your article with interest. I hope your friend makes a full recovery very soon. Can I just say that I admire her bravery and positivity. All the best


    • stars439 profile image

      stars439 5 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      I pray she will feel much better. Thank God they got it all. Thank you for the step by step procedure. And God Bless You Too.

    • profile image 5 years ago

      There are certainly times when surgery is needed. god knows that I have more than one scar from a surgeon's knife. But I still stand firm that there are more ways of curing cancer than just surgery. But sometimes, it is the only answer. Just know your opinions and your surgeon.

      Good Hub, diogenes - always

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi Tilly: Yes, all went well with her op., the scar was handled almost as a plastic surgeon would, in fact, Shapiro, who did the op, is such.

      Definitely, as Will says, get onto them early while they are easy to remove quickly and cheaply.


    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi Will: I was quite shocked to see the pictures of various basal cell lesions on the www. Mine was like yours, five minutes and finished; my friend's was apparently much more extensive. Perhaps the margins between the various skin cancers are fuzzier than we think. Some have died from the results of basal cell as well as the more malignant types...


    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Very interesting Bob, the subject, your friend, and the way you presented it. There is so much we don't know about cancer until it touches us or someone in our lives. It sounds like her surgery went well, was more than reasonably priced and hope that her recovery was quick and total.

      This is also a good hub for people who have basal cell - so they will realize not to let it go!

      Voted up, useful and interesting!

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Basal cell cancers are easily dealt with in the early stages, so if you see something that might be a cancer, by all means deal with it right away by contacting a dermatologist. Using 'natural remedies' will result in the sort of problem illustrated. Please don't wait or use alternate methods when a simple office-surgery will solve the problem. My outpatient surgery (it took less than five minutes!) eliminated the problem and the scar is almost invisible.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi quester: She had used natural remedies for about 4 years which seemed to prevent the cancer exploding on the surface, but it had been growing under the skin...I am always suspicious of the eagerness (read bucks) to operate, too, but this cancer seemes to be asking for the knife...


    • profile image 5 years ago

      Glad your friend is doing well, but there are other methods to take care of such things without the surgery. But as Will said, catch it early.

      You are looking good, Bob. Losing weigh I see. Keep up the good work! Live long and (dare I say it?) prosper.


    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      She was, aviannovice, and it was great work by the doctor..I will put a picture of her wound on the story soon

      Thanks for comment


    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Sounds like she was happy overall. How wonderful!

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Bless her heart, and it will look better with time and treatment.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi Will. Thanks for generous comment. I have had one removed from upper chest and keep a good look out now.

      Always something out to get us!

      My friend, H., should take the credit for this article and she's doing real well.


    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I've had two on the tip of my nose that required a skin graft to keep from scaring little children and spoiling appetites , and one just two weeks ago on my lip that required no additional surgery.

      The trick is to spot them early, and have them removed while they are still small. They are pearly in color, so have anything like that checked out early.

      BTW, the one on my nose required the MOHS procedure.

      Excellent and needed Hub, Bob...and one I should have thought to write!


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