My Melanoma Experience (Part 2)
I was 28 when I had my first and hopefully only skin cancer. It was Melanoma, which can be 100% curable when caught early. After my diagnosis and treatment my dermatologist, Dr. Atkin, helped me set up a long term treatment plan.
There is an established history of basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma in my family, and I have a history of sunburns as a teenager. These factors increase my skin cancer risk, so Dr. Atkin and I made a plan to perform some preventative treatment on my face, chest, upper back and arms and legs. I purchased sun protective clothing to wear when I am out and I am in the habit now of wearing sunscreen EVERY DAY and re-applying when out. I use self tanning lotion when I need a little color. I return to Dr. Atkin every 3 months for a thorough full body skin exam. I closely monitor any spots, freckles or moles that I see. One thing I have learned during this is that we continue to get new moles until we are about 40 years of age. In our 30’s we may also start to develop benign keratosis (seborrheic keratosis) that can look unusual. The important thing is to be aware of any new spots and have them evaluated by your dermatologist.
For preventative measure, aside from the sun avoidance and sun protection, you can have laser and light based therapies with your dermatologist. Dr. Atkin and I decided on a treatment plan to reduce pre-cancerous changes (actinic sun-damage) occurring in my skin with Photodynamic photo-rejuvenation. With this procedure a medicine called amino levulinic acid is painted onto the skin and left there for an incubation period. The medicine penetrates and attaches itself to any precancerous cells. After a defined period of time the medicine is activated with a laser light source and Blu U light and goes to work breaking down any precancerous cells. It has been used worldwide for a number of years and is a medically recognized as a treatment for pre-cancerous (actinic) sun-damage.
This is part 2 of a 3 series story about Karen and her experience with Melanoma.