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once i have had BCC, does it mean they will just keep popping up again, every few years?

Posts: 82
Joined: Apr 2009

i had my first superficial basal cell carcinoma on my skin when i was 31!
i have fair skin and freckles and don't sunbake at all, but i got some pretty bad burns as a kid and once in my 20's (accident, cloudy day on beach and went for a walk for 2 hours) with large amounts of peeling skin, blisters etc.

i had photodynamic therapy twice for this lesion (1 cm across) and it disappeared completely ,leaving my skin looking normal.
now, i can see the beginnings of the same thing elsewhere on my back, this time i recognise it earlier, before it has the rolled edges etc, as it is a patch the size of my little fingernail, that is like sandpaper and gets tiny beads of blood if you scratch it. from the side in the light i can see the lightly raised, silvery look.
i got a referal to a skin specialist to look at it but haven't gone yet, as i guess i am being lazy as bbc on my back is not really dangerous, is it.
what i am bummed about, is this...
is there anything i can do to avoid further bcc's popping up over the years, or is the damage years ago already done, and i will just have to deal with them as they pop up?
i kind of thought if i was healthy, my immune system should mop up any bad cells?
i am only 36 now.

Posts: 45
Joined: May 2010

I've had 3 BCC removed over the last 10 years so I guess I'd have to say yes, you'll have the tendency. Once you have done the damage to your skin there is not much you can do. Sorry I can't give you better advice.

You are right BCC is not really dangerous but it is something you want to get removed.

Posts: 82
Joined: Apr 2009

thanks for the reply...i thought as much....and it doesn't help with the doctors constsnlty telling me that they normally only see this in old people, althugh i no longer believe that to be true from reading about others experience...

can i ask, is it easy to distinguish a scc from a bcc,or can they present similar?
i ask because i guess i have been a little lazy delaying for a few months to go to the specialist as i know a bcc is not much of a worry on my trunk, so have procrastinated, but i would hate to find out i made a wrong guess and it was a scc...
i guess i should just not procrastinate, but i know it will be a ****fight trying to get them to do photodynamic therapy to remove it instead of cheaper surgery, or cuterage and cautery, but i don't want heaps of scars when i know they can get it off with pdt, and i can't use the aldara cream as i am breastfeeding.
when i had the photodynamic therapy last time it was on the nhs in britain, but i am now in australia so i don't know what they will do here, and i am not in the mood for a fight...
i shouldn't complain though as i know many people are fighting for their lives and i am complaining about having a possible scar from a local nuisance, sorry...

Posts: 45
Joined: May 2010

I think SCC is the one kind of skin cancer I have managed not to have :). I hadn't heard of photodynamic therapy, wish I had would save me a few scars.

From looking at photos on the net, appears SCC presents as much more of an open sore that won't heal. But you never know if they are showing you late stages. My BCC was little finger tip size exaggerated patches of very dry rough skin.

Posts: 82
Joined: Apr 2009

here is some info on photodynamic therapy.

unfortunately i read on the skin cancer college website that medicare in australia don't cover photodynamic therapy, and it is very expensive privately, which makes me very cross!
i don't drink or smoke,and am a healthy weight etc so don't cost the system any mneyv for lifestyle choices yet have skin cancer thru no fault of my own, yet i will either have to pay for my treatment myself, or end up with multiple scars over my life time instead!
not fair!

Posts: 82
Joined: Apr 2009

i did some ringing around about getting photodynamic therapy for this lesion, (which is small) and it will be at least $600 a session, and i will need 2...

on the nhs in england it was free!

australia seems crap compared to the nhs!
i got free skin cancer treatment there, and 2 free homebirths on the nhs, yet in my homecountry, unless i want excision or something like that, i have to pay!
the skin cancer clinic said they are backwards here with what treatments they will pay for compared to in other countries, even though our rate of survival from skin cancers is very good...not even my medibank private health insurance will cover any of it!
i am so cross....its not a cosmetic procedure, its skin cancer!
i guess they weigh expense over scarring...

i did some reading on the aldara (imiquimod )cream as i could have that prescribed free, but i'm still breast feeding and i don't want to use scary chemical for a simple bcc on my trunk!
i would be better off with a scar than messing with my immune system, don't you think?
my husband said we can put it on the credit card, but it bothers me that i should have to pay for treatment when it was free in the uk!

i know i'm being spoilt compared to the worries some have in the united states with getting their treatments covered, even with huge expensive medical cover, but i grew up thinking australia was all that with their medical system- until i need to use it for something!
everything i have needed so far, i have ended up having to pay for!

has anyone else read anything scary about the aldara cream?

Posts: 45
Joined: May 2010

I'll add them to my bookmarks, sure I'll need them sooner or later. I'd just not mess with the BCC and get the thing cut off. It shouldn't be a big scar, should it? You're making yourself crazy over something that you shouldn't have to worry about. Not good for you and the baby.

Don't move to the U.S., you'd really go crazy. I'm afraid to add up what it has cost me so far for for my 2 surgeries, etc. and that's with pretty good insurance. Ah well, still here to complain about it so that's a good thing!

Start enjoying that baby and get this thing out of your life once and for all.

Posts: 15
Joined: Jun 2010

BCC is highly curable when removed early so I agree, take care of it and enjoy your baby. The longer it stays untreated the harder it is to take care of without a lot of damage to the area. My BCC was on my back for about 6 months before it was removed and never had another one on my skin although my doctor is always removing stuff that doesn't look right. Please stay on top of anything that doesn't look right. I had an unusal complication so I know how dangerous BCC can become.

Posts: 82
Joined: Apr 2009

i went to the skin cancer doctor today.

he agreed that the spot is dodgy, and is most likely another bcc, but pointed out that until confirmed by a biopsy,there is always a chance it could be scc, so you can't tell by looking, but we thinks its just another bcc.
i have to choose to remove it by surgery, which leaves a small scar on a visible spot, or i can use the photodynamic therapy, at $1200 for the treatment, and it has a success rate of 90% over 5 years...my other bcc disappeared completey without scarring and has not come back so i think, i would prefer pdt, first and then removal via excision if it came back.
i also have a little flat white,silvery patch that scales slightly if i scrtch it, which i have been watching, and he said it could be actinic keratosis, precursor to scc, and there are a few other patches i have not noticed in my close scrutiny, that he said may be the very early beginning of more her and there on my upper back :(
the doctor suggested i excise it, which i am considering, and using the photodynamic therapy to treat my whole upper back, and my face.

although my face apparently looks good for my age, compared to many, my skin is quite sundamaged in spots...i saw it a few years ago when i was shown it under a special lamp that show it up, so i know i have damage, although the evidence hasn't popped up via skin cancers or wrinkles yet on my face.
i KNOW my shoulder, upper back is sundamaged too.
the exciting thing is, that i can treat the sundamage on large areas such as the face nd upper back, BEFORE it has a chance to turn in to more, thus limiting the potential amount of lesions that will pop up in the future.
as the photodynamic therapy kills only damaged cells and not healthy cells, it can get tiny little things not yet visible to the eye and will treat precancerous or tiny cancerous things not yet seen.
the added benefit is it also stimulates collagen production, so on my face the other benefits are that my skin will look better! :)

my aunty has all sorts of horrendous things being cut out of her nose ,face ,arms, bak etc, as she used to slather herself in oil and sunbake.even though i have never one that, i still have skin cancers popping up 30 YEARS earlier than she has!
if i have the pdt on my face and upper back, which are the most likely areas for lesions to keep showing up, it at least will deal with alot of the damage early.
i guess i'm not entirely explaining it well, but you can do some googling for the more scientific facts etc...
i wonder whether it would benefit others to try this too?

it will cost $1000 for the face and approx $1200 for the upper back.
if i excise the known bcc, to save spending $1200 on treting just that one, then i could treat the whole upper back preventively instead and also deal with the other few early things showing up on my shoulder, so i think that would be better use of the money.
treating the actual cancer, needs two sessions whereas the preventative treatment only one, which is why its so expensive for the one spot.

i also have an area the size of a grain of sushi rice on my nose that is weird.the actual skin surface looks normal, but the skin is thickened, and has been for a while now, which i was worried about, and he thinks its might be early changes in the skin, that might take years to show up on the surface, so hopefully that is dealt with if i treat the face too..
i just don't want to end up having stuff cut out all over the place.
a number of my 30 something friends in Queensland had multiple scars all over from having melanoma in situ taken out etc... the sun is soooo bad in australia!
at least they are on the ball with skin cancer diagnoses though..

anyway, i won't be able to afford to do the photodynamic therapy for another two months, but i will let you know what the result is once i have, regarding the effectivenss of getting all the precancer bit off!

can someone please let me know what kind of scar i could expect if he excises a 1cm lesion from the middle of my back?
would it end up just a tiny thin line you can't notice?

sorry, i know i sound very vain...if i know what to expect then i can go ahead knowing what the deal is, rather than wishing i hadn't after the fact.

the doctor said he would always choose to excise anything if it was his skin, because IF a bcc come back it can come back more aggressively, but i would certainly not muck around if it was something dangerous,i think its just another superficial bcc though...

LIVEAGAIN, didn't you have a bcc that spread?
i might go an reread some posts...maybe i'm being silly not just getting it excised, as i would have to wait another two months to treat this with pdt, financially, and i think its been there for at least 6 now,but it just looks like nothing much ,so i thought i had time to wait...

Posts: 82
Joined: Apr 2009

just to answer my original question..... the skin cancer doctor told me: chances of a 2nd basal cell after having a 1st, is 85 %.
chances of having a third after having a 2nd diagnosed is 100%, so yes, i can expect to have them continue to pop up unfortunately, but at least so far it has only been basal cell and i am aware and catch them quickly.

this one, he suggested giving a quick freeze with the dry ice and seeing if that remove it, as it was only about 5mm and looked shallow.it would have been 4mm punch biopsy to test it, so we went with a quick freeze to be reiviewed in a month, try another quick freeze if needs be, and if that doesn't sort it, i will do the pdt.

he gave me some products branded ALLMEDIC which contain medical strength glycolic acid, which has fantastic results on precancerous actinic keratosis etc.
they showed pics of older people with the scaly, red faces and scalps looking very much different after only a month of using them.ofcourse, my skin is not like that yet at this age, but will still benefit from the use as it sloughs off sun damaged cells and has good clinical results for sundamaged skin.
its worth a try for those who have sun damaged skin prone to actinic keratosis etc...

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