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Biopsy and Freezing and Surgery? Oh My!

The long Thanksgiving holiday was really good. My youngest daughter was home from college for five days, and she and I got to spend a lot of time together. My Christmas decorations are up, and it’s the start of a most wonderful season. But by 8:15 this morning, I’d already had a biopsy and two places treated with liquid nitrogen at my dermatologist’s office. This isn’t exactly an ideal ending to a wonderful weekend, nor a great beginning to a work week.

New skin spots

I knew going into my six-month checkup this morning that I would be having a biopsy. About five weeks ago I had a new spot appear, and it looked to me like one that I’d end up pointing out to my dermatologist at my upcoming appointment. The funny thing about having skin cancer is that you learn to know your skin. I’ve had skin cancer for over twenty years, and I do frequent skin checks….as in basically, every time I look in a mirror.

Not surprisingly, when I pointed out the area to my doctor this morning, she said she would be doing a biopsy on it and asked if I wanted to go ahead and schedule the surgery to remove it before year end. I suggested we wait until the biopsy results come back – hope springs eternal, yes? I’m hoping (most likely naively) that it turns out to be something that doesn’t require surgical excision.

Surprise skin cancer treatment

What I didn’t expect this morning was for my doctor to zap two precancerous areas with liquid nitrogen (also known as cyrosurgery). I’m the type of person who likes to research treatment options and know what to expect with a procedure. This was the first time I had a precancerous area frozen, and although it was very fast, it hurt! Thankfully, the pain from that didn’t last long because the pain from the biopsy soon started thereafter, once the numbing shot wore off. My drive to work after the appointment wasn’t much fun, and there was no one with me to feel sorry for me.

Researching cyrosurgery

Once I got to work, I did some quick research on cyrosurgery (or cyrotherapy). What I learned about the process is that it is used more often for actinic keratoses (precancerous areas) than for actual skin cancer. However, a doctor may decide to use cyrosurgery for cancerous areas for various reasons, including if there are multiple areas to be need treated or if it’s a first time that skin cancer has appeared in that particular area. Once treated, the area will then form a scab, and should then heal within three to six weeks. The promising data regarding cyrosurgery is that in a study, it had a cure rate for 99 out of 100 people five years after treatment, according to WebMd.com.1

Even though I wasn’t expecting to have cyrosurgery done today, it sounds like my doctor made the right call. And the good news? By having two quick procedures this morning, I’m still winning this skin cancer battle!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SkinCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. https://www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/cryosurgery-for-nonmelanoma-skin-cancer

Comments

  • Nina M moderator
    1 year ago

    Oh no, @diane, I’m sorry you’re having trouble copying it in. Have you tried highlighting all the words in the comment and “right-clicking,” then hitting copy? Then go into the story submission and “right-click,” then hit paste? If it doesn’t seem to be working, I can post from my account and include any photos you’d like to email to us. And last but not least, we can let your story live here in this comment, and that is more than enough! – Nina, SkinCancer.net Team

  • diane
    1 year ago

    My story is long as far as my experience with cyrosurgery, but today I joined this community in hopes to to be brave and share.
    6 yrs ago I met with my first Dermatoligist due to a reacurring spot on my nose. He diagnosed it as pre-cancer, and I had my first cyrosurgery.
    Within 4 yrs I had cyrosurgery a total of 9 times on my nose, it never accured to me to ask for a biopsy, I was just happy that it wasn’t skin cancer.
    At Christmas I was talking to my brother about my experience, and he did with me as well, as he was healing from Basel Cell. He suggested having a second opinion. So 3 months later I met with another Dermatoligisr at the same Hospital, she looked at the new spot on my nose and said, ”I’ll biopsy but I’m pretty sure it’s Basel Cell”.
    Biopsy returned and it was BCC. 3 months later with a friend by my side I had the Mohs Procedure, she shaved a large area on top of my nose, an with a big dressing on my nose my friend and I waited, I was trying my best to be brave and strong, but I was scared. The Nurse came out and said that I had to go back and have more biopsied, so my Doctor took off more and it came back clean. My friend and I went directly to the ENT who performed an extensive reconstruction. Large skin graph from my neck, stitching on my large deep hole, my friend still by my side, even watching, later she said she couldn’t believe she could) my ENT then stitched a added piece of cotton to my new nose flap, saying it was for pressure to keep the graft in place.
    We left there totally shocked what had all just happened. I felt like a freak instead of feeling grateful, I was angry at my first Dermatoligist, because this could have all been avoided, if he would have biopsied one of those 9 spots that he zapped off.
    Healing has felt like a lifetime, literally. It has affected me emotionally, mentally and of course physically.
    One month ago I met with a new Dermoligist at a different Clinic, to have my moles checked and my noseflap as it has changed, it’s white and more visible.
    She took off 1 mole to biopsy
    (she knows about my family hx of Basel Cell and Melanoma) my 2 brothers go to this Clinic.
    She asked questions about my nose flap, and I briefly told her my story. She left the room, and returned with the Doctor also Mohs Surgeon who’s treated my brothers.
    He explained that the ENT put too much skin, because the hole was so deep. He explained how it would be an easy fix compared to what I’ve already been through. He explained the process saying it would be a freebie fix if my ENT chose to do it, but he could also do it for me, for nothing. I was so happy to hear his explanation, also knowing it could be fixed, and he’d even be willing to do it without charging me.

    My biopsy of my mole on my back came back as Severe Atypical, so I returned seeing my Dermatoligist and he said she was treating it like it was Melanomia, and she did, by cutting and leaving 9 stitches. She also saw a mole on my lower back that she didn’t see on my first exam, so she cut that out to biopsy. I got the call 2 days ago that biopsy shows it’s BCC, so I’ll return in 2 weeks to have another Mohs.

    Thank you for reading, listening to my experiences. I’ll add pictures of my nose in the comments, beware they’re pretty graphic.

  • Nina M moderator
    1 year ago

    Dear @diane, thank you so so much for being brave and sharing this story with us. Your experience is a perfect example of how non-melanoma skin cancers can be traumatic both physically and mentally. If you don’t mind, we’d love for you to copy and paste this comment into a story submission (here: https://skincancer.net/stories/) so we can share it on Facebook (it would only have your username attached to it). Of course, if you’d prefer not to, we understand. Because we can’t yet post pictures in comments, perhaps you could email any images you would like to include in the story? We can then add them ourselves. Here’s the email: contact@skincancer.net. Sending strength for this newest treatment. – Nina, SkinCancer.net Team

  • diane
    1 year ago

    Thank you Nina for your words of kindness.
    I would like to share to the link you provided, but I’m having a problem copying, maybe you have a tip?

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