Another Skin Cancer?
Last updated: December 2021
My six-month checkup with my dermatologist is in a few weeks. For the past four months or so, I have been feeling pretty happy because I hadn’t noticed anything on my skin that I thought I needed to point out to her.
Skin cancer recurrence: it's why we do skin checks
I do frequent self-skin checks, and in fact, I do them every day, maybe even multiple times a day. Basically, if I’m looking in a mirror, I’m looking for any suspicious new areas that may have popped up. Every time I visit my dermatologist, I point out a spot that concerns me, and she usually tells me there's nothing to worry about. Ahead of this next visit, I have nothing to point out.
I hadn't noticed this one
That I have nothing to point out made me very happy, because this appointment is the one after the summer, and usually there are a few things that either need to be frozen or biopsied or treated at my December appointments. So here I am, a few weeks out from my appointment, and when I woke up one morning I noticed that I had a scab on the side of my face.
The spot had bled
Odd, I didn’t notice that when I went to bed. I washed off the dried blood and saw what looked like a small red dot under it. I wondered if I had a bug bite, or maybe I had scratched myself in the night. I didn’t give it much thought, other than that I should keep an eye on it.
Blood hasn't meant good things for me in the past
Then the next morning, as I was making my bed, I noticed spots of blood on my pillowcase and even bigger blotches of blood on my sheet that I usually pull up over me in the night. Ugh. My heart sank. A bleeding spot, even if it’s tiny, doesn’t usually mean good things for me with skin cancer.
What kinds of skin cancer bleed?
Is this spot skin cancer? Which types of skin cancer bleed? I did a quick search online to confirm what I thought I already knew, and the answer is that out of the three most common types of skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma – all three of them can bleed.
Didn't help narrow it down
Basal cell carcinomas can be a small area that may bleed (or they may be a larger area that doesn’t bleed). Squamous cell carcinomas can be a flat spot that bleeds (or it can be a firm bump that doesn’t bleed). Melanomas can be flat and may bleed (or they can be elevated and not bleed). Clear as mud, right? In the past, I have had basal cell carcinomas that bleed and squamous cell carcinomas that bleed. I’ve also had basal cells and squamous cells that didn’t bleed.
The spot is now almost gone
After the two nights of the bleeding, the spot has shrunk until it’s almost gone. It would be easy for me to forget about it and decide that it was just something weird that happened. But I know better. Having had skin cancer for over twenty-six years has taught me that if something is suspicious or worrisome on my skin, I need to have it checked. Just because I want it to go away doesn’t mean that it’s gone.
I'm still going to show my dermatologist
So, I will point out the area to my dermatologist in a few weeks. She will probably want to biopsy it, and I’ll then find out if it’s something that needs to be removed, or if it was just something weird on my face that is in fact clearing up.
Early detection is key!
I’m hoping for the latter, but the good news is that if it is skin cancer, I noticed it early on. The earlier the better on treatment, so if you have anything unusual, suspicious, or worrisome on your skin, please make an appointment with your dermatologist to have it checked!
Do you sunscreen in the fall?