Healthy Summer Skin: Sun Protection from Skin Cancer
"It didn't look like skin cancer."
-- Elizabeth Miers, 27, Allentown, Pennsylvania
The mole on my face didn't look at all like the photographs of skin cancer I'd seen on the Internet. Even the dermatologist I finally saw after it had gotten a little bigger and changed in color said it looked fine and told me to come back in a year. At my appointment 12 months later, however, the story was very different: The doctor said he didn't like the way the mole looked and did a biopsy. I was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma.
To remove the cancer, I had Mohs surgery -- a procedure in which a surgeon shaves off the skin layer by layer and looks at it under a microscope. He keeps going until he reaches a cancer-free layer. I also had plastic surgery to close the wound, because it was on my face.
My doctor told me that I will almost certainly get more carcinomas, because I'm so young and having one skin cancer puts you at high risk for developing more. Now I pay very close attention to every mole and spot on my body, and the minute anything changes, I go straight to the dermatologist.
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