When a Tiny Spot Causes a Big Amount of Concern
Last updated: November 2020
I spent a ridiculous amount of time focusing on one little spot that turned out to be “just” an actinic keratosis (AK), which always makes me think of a weapon. Just because these are not actual cancers doesn’t mean they don’t take a lot of time and energy. Woah, that’s a whole lot of double negatives. Let me unspool it for you. They are not skin cancer, but they could turn into skin cancer, so they need to be addressed.
Cryosurgery for actinic keratosis
I showed it to my dermatologist. She was zapping away at various AKs. By zapping, I mean, she was performing cryosurgery, but if you said 'cryosurgeried', it wouldn’t be a word. Also, it wouldn’t sound as much like how the process feels. Zapping sounds like the process of getting these spots frozen off.
Detour ahead: Do you know the word onomatopoeic? Zapping is an onomatopoeic word. I asked my friend if he knew of onomatopoeia and he said yes, but he wasn’t sure what it means. Drumroll…It means “the formation of a word from a sound associated with the thing it describes.” Examples include splash, sizzle, and ping-pong.1 If you want to have some fun with it, you can go to this link and practice pronouncing it in American and British English.
Could it be melanoma?
OK, back on track now: As she was zapping various spots on my face and arms, I said I was concerned about a spot on my forehead. It was a bit flakey, like my past squamous cell carcinomas, but it also had darker speckles in it. When something is darker, I worry about melanoma, but I have learned that just being a little darker doesn’t necessarily mean a sign of melanoma. “Don’t worry, I already got it,” she said.
But when I got home it didn’t look like she had gotten it at all. I called the nurse at the office. She said to send a photo. I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to do a “selfie” of a little weird spot on my forehead. I couldn’t get it in focus. After I took a bunch of them, I thought about sending them but went on to other things. I forgot about it, at least for the time being.
Trying to leave the spot alone
As I was doing some writing, my hand drifted up to my forehead. I rubbed the spot. I don’t know if I thought it would help me think, or what. My fingernail went into it. It became more of picking and less rubbing. Picking or rubbing these spots is not a good thing to do. If you have a tendency to do this and a way of stopping yourself, let me know. In any case…
Another one zapped and gone
At night before bed, I looked closely at the spot in the mirror. An edge of it was peeling. I gave it a little help. It came off, revealing healthy pink skin. She had “gotten” it after all. I had gotten all worked up over nothing. She never said exactly what it was, but I assume it was just another AK, zapped and gone.
How often do you worry about skin cancer coming back?
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