You know how you have something that occasionally nags at you but it seems fleeting and then goes away entirely until it comes back again? That’s what I’ve been experiencing for several years with this “spot” on the side of my nose. I know it’s been there for several years and it was just a small spot that the skin would sort of peel off. I never really thought too much about it because I have some of those patches on other places and they do the same thing. I think I’ve even been to the dermatologist to have other age spots removed from my nose and didn’t think to mention this other spot which wasn’t always readily visible.
I didn’t think to photograph it before, but I found this photo on-line and it looks pretty much like what mine did.
That is until a couple months ago. I noticed that the spot which had been a singular spot had now morphed into a red, scaly patch about the size of a dime. It still wasn’t visible most of the time until I started taking the heart rate medication, Amiodarone. One of the side effects of Amiodarone is skin sensitivity to sun. So each time my face was exposed to the sun, I looked like a left-nared Rudolph.
As usual as with most everything I have a question about, I seek advise from the god of all knowledge, Google. What I found on Google is one very common skin issue is “Actinic Keratosis”. So what I learned is:
Actinic keratosis (AK) is the most common precancer that forms on skin damaged by chronic exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and/or indoor tanning. Solar keratosis is another name for the condition.
AKs result from long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This means that if you already have an AK, you are likely to develop more actinic keratoses (plural) in the future. This puts you at a higher risk for skin cancer, since AKs can develop into squamous cell carcinoma, a common and sometimes invasive form of the disease.
Of course, that description contains the horrendously scary word “cancer”. So guess what my next Google search was?
You guessed it, “squamous cell carcinoma.” I found there is good news and bad news. The bad news, of course, is that it is a cancer, but the good news is “quamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin is the second most common form of skin cancer, characterized by abnormal, accelerated growth of squamous cells. When caught early, most SCCs are curable.” (skincancer.org)
I called my Dermatologist last week thinking that it would be two to three months before I could get in to see her, and much to my surprise, I got an appointment for today. On top of that, I was the first appointment of the day. I was in and out of there in less than half an hour and only left behind a small snippet of my nose. The NP agreed that most likely the lesion was an actinic keratosis, but she wanted to be certain by taking a biopsy to make sure. She said the most common course would be for her to freeze the area and worse case would be she would have to refer me to a surgeon. I’m certainly hoping for the first.
The worst part of the biopsy was the anesthetic. That stuff (and here, I would usually have used the word ‘$hit’ but I’m trying to be politically correct) burns. She said she would use a scalpel and just shave a little skin off the top. I asked her if while she was shaving away, that she “accidently” take the mole on the side of my nose I’ve had all my life. She asked me why I would want to do that because I wouldn’t look the same. I told her that the Great Hunter liked to tease me and ask if I when I was going to pluck the long curly hair growing out of it (it doesn’t)
**Update** The biopsy report came back with no cancer, just keratosis. I go back in a few weeks to have it frozen off (and yes, that hurts too).