Do you know how to spot skin cancer? NewsChannel 3’s Juliet Bickford thought she did, but she almost missed it on her own skin.
Dermatologist Dr. Arnold Oppenheim is now treating her for skin cancer.
A few weeks ago, he diagnosed a small spot on her forehead as basal cell carcinoma.
“I never would have in a million years thought this tiny spot would turn into this,” says Juliet.
In fact, it’s the most common form of cancer.
Often patients don’t realize that’s what they have because a basal cell doesn’t look like a mole. Her spot looked a little like a blemish or bug bite.
“If you have bleeding in a spot, that’s almost a giveaway it could be a basal cell,” says Dr. Oppenheim.
And it didn’t go away. She noticed it for months before she said anything.
Doctor Oppenheim says if anything unusual pops up on your skin and doesn’t go away after a month, see your doctor.
“If it is something, you’re delaying the diagnosis and you’re going to need a more involved procedure,” says Dr. Oppenheim.
She was able to catch it relatively early, so she had something called MOHS surgery on her forehead last week.
“It looks bruised underneath. A lot of damage during the surgical procedure,” says Juliet.
It left a scar, but it got the basal cell out. Getting surgery early can make a big difference.
In an extreme case, Dr. Oppenheim treated a patient whose entire cheek and eye were affected.
Here’s what to look for:
- An open sore
- A reddish patch
- A shiny or pink bump
- A scar like area
“The good thing about basal cells is they rarely kill anybody. They can be disfiguring if you let them go too long,” says Dr. Oppenheim.