What do I need to ask about skin cancer surgery?
July 17, 2012 2:36 PM Subscribe
Mohs surgery, end of next month. What should I be asking the surgeon in the meantime?
posted by thrasher to health & fitness (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm 38. I've had this mole on my nose for at least 4 years. A GP two years ago looked at it and dismissed it as "just a mole," so when I went to a dermatologist a couple weeks ago it was just because I'm sick of looking at it and want it gone, even if it was just for cosmetic reasons and they'd have to charge me for it. But they biopsied it and found basal cell carcinoma.
My Dad has been having cancerous lesions (including one melanoma) removed and/or frozen off of his face, arms, legs and back for over 20 years. He's had Mohs surgery twice, both on his face, but both were caught early and were relatively minor.
After biopsy results they scheduled my surgery in 5 weeks and they're mailing me some info. That's it. No pre-surgery meeting, nothing. I've been doing all sorts of research, reading accounts and horror stories, looking at photos online, etc. And now I'm freaking. This is my face/head we're talking about!
Is there any way to know how long this mole has been cancerous, how big it is, or how extensive surgery will be? (The dermatologist said it didn't look too deep when he was doing the biopsy, but I don't know how much that can be trusted. Research I've read said basal cell is generally "slow growing" at something like 2-3mm every 6 months or so. That sounds like it could be huge to me.) Is the fact that the surgery is a month away a cause for concern? Why is Mohs done under local instead of general anesthetic?
These are all questions I intend to email to my surgeon, with a request for an interim appointment or at least a phone call. Any other questions I should be asking?
If you have any experiences, advice, suggestions, insight, questions, etc on the general topic, I'd appreciate those too.