Did you know Elisabeth Taylor had a Basal Cell Carcinoma? …

January 9, 2012 5 comments

… She had one removed from her cheek in 2002 apparently, as I discovered today.  Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) doesn’t discriminate: whoever you are, whatever your background, it can take hold if you’re not careful in the sun!

And, did you know that George Bush Senior used Efudex to treat pre-cancerous growths? I didn’t but the photo below allegedly shows the effect it had on his face. Just goes to show how extreme the effects of this treatment can be! Poor man.  I’m glad I didn’t have to go out in public looking like that as the skin on my nose never got quite that bad; a bit crusty in places yes but not quite as ‘angry’ looking as this.

Efudix and George Bush

Efudix takes hold on George Bush Senior's face.

Having gone through Efudix treatment, and come out the other end, has made me very reflective and driven my desire to find out as much as I can about Basal Cell Carcinoma, its causes and treatments.  And, in doing so, I came across this presentation which gives a good overview of the condition and talks about the different types of BCC. Worth a look.  Also, I’ve found this video showing the Mohs micro-graphic procedure being undertaken on a patient’s face. Not for the squeamish but lets you see in detail what the procedure entails. I had my BCC removed by Mohs and it helped (after the event, it must be said. I don’t think I could have gone through with the op if I’d seen this beforehand!) to understand how the specialist who performed my procedure was able to ascertain quite how much skin and tissue to cut out. A rather scientific and seemingly accurate process for ascertaining the degree of spread of a Basal Cell Carcinoma.

Efudix effects continue to hold!

January 5, 2012 7 comments

Another couple of weeks have gone by and still I can see the effects of the Efudex ointment!  Admittedly its only when I look close-up in the mirror, and particularly when I’m hot (and other people probably don’t notice at all), but I can still see the outline of where I applied the Efudix all the same. Long and short of it is that the skin on my nose is more pink than the rest of my face.  As I’ve said before, I know that the amount of time the skin takes to heal from Efudex ointment very much depends on the severity of reaction during treatment but I really had expected my nose to be totally back to normal by now! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not losing sleep over it and am certainly not locking myself away for fear of being seen out in public.  Heh, this is nothing – I’m glad I went through with the treatment and am thankful the Efudix has done its job.  I’m more curious than anything about how long the side effects of efudex can actually take hold for. Oh well, watch this space…

I’m still treating my nose with great care, gently moisturising it twice a day and have been taking a skin vitamin supplement in the hope that it’ll aid healing. And, I guess its working as my skin is no longer dry and my scar is looking pretty good.  I know I’ve probably been overly cautious but there you go, perhaps it was the right thing to do, who knows. Anyway, I’ve finally decided now’s the time to get back to facials. I’ve booked one for next week and am really looking forward to it. Let’s hope my nose thanks me for it!

Have recently come across this helpful online support group .  A really useful resource to share experiences and ask advice from others who have or have had a form of skin cancer. Its coming across sites like this that makes me realise what a wonderful resource the web is: its so great to be able to reach out and talk to others who understand what you’re going through, at the touch of a button. I’m going to add the link to my blog roll too for ease.

Basal Cell Carcinoma and Efudix – what I’ve learnt …

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Not much change in terms of the appearance of my nose since my last post – still a little pink (and more obvious if I’m hot) but, not much to write home about. It’s clearly now just a matter of waiting – I’ve got sensitive skin at the best of times and the skin on my poor ‘ole nose has had quite an assault of late so it’s no wonder it’s taking a while to calm down.  Patience is clearly the key. The main thing is, my treatment is over and I’m well on the road to recovery.

It’s been quite a journey and I’ve learnt a number of things along the way:

  1. Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer
  2. It’s considered malignant despite the fact that it rarely metastatises or results in death
  3. Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common form of cancer in Europe,  Australia and USA
  4. Around 3 out of 10 Caucasians develop Basal Cell Carcinoma in their lifetime. That’s quite a statistic!
  5. Instances of Basal Cell Carcinoma are on the increase in the UK – despite increased sun awareness?!  Let’s not forget that basal cells are very slow growing and occurence could be linked to a sun burn in childhood
  6. Sun bed users are 70% more likely to develop a Basal Cell Carcinoma before the age of 40.  If that’s not a reason to stop using sunbeds, I don’t know what is!  There are some fabulous fake tan products out now if a tan is your thing
  7. There are a number of potential treatments for Basal Cell Carcinoma including excision, Mohs micrographic surgery, electrodesication, cryosurgery, radiotherapy, photodynamic therapy and ‘topical treatment’ with Fluorouracil!
  8. Fluorouracil comes in many guises (it has a number of different brand names): Efudix, Efudex (the cause of much confusion on my part when I first started this blog!), Carac and Fluoroplex.
  9. Fluorouracil is used to treat actinic/solar keratoses (a pre-malignant skin condition) as well as Basal Cell Carcinoma.

    10. Whilst the effects of Efudix treatment aren’t particularly pleasant, they’re not necessarily totally unbearable. As I’ve said all along, I count myself lucky that I haven’t had to treat my entire face with Efudex and that the effects were manageable.

I guess the main lesson I take away from this whole journey is that Efudix is prescribed for a reason and however unpleasant the treatment is, it’s better than the alternative. So, if it’s been prescribed to you, do the sensible thing and start applying it today.  Good luck with your journey!

Read more…

Another Efudex photo and another smile!

December 16, 2011 2 comments
Fluroracil Efudex treatment follow-up for Basal Cell Carcinoma on nose

Another smile at the wonders of Efudix cream!

A big, big picture and a big smile! Okay, so my nose still looks a little pink but the scabs have now fully gone and my nose no longer itches. And I’m happy that my Efudix journey is all but at an end. Who would have thought, looking at this, that just a few days ago my nose was red, blotchy and crusty from the Efudix Fluorouracil cream. It’s a strange substance – it took a week to take hold, reeked havoc on my nose when it did and within a few days of stopping the treatment, my skin’s approaching something near normal.

So, hopefully now any pre-cancerous skin cells that were on my nose have been killed off and my nose is taking its time to recover from the assault of the Efudix cream.  I can’t wait to have a facial and really treat my poor old nose.

I’ve no idea how long it’s going to take before my nose returns to the colour it was pre-Efudex – my dermatologist said is dependent on the severity of the reaction.  Whilst the reaction I experienced seemed severe to me, it clearly wasn’t – I’ve seen photos of others who have had much more startling results – so I hope full recovery isn’t too far off. I go back to see my dermatolgist in late February so he can check the healing of my Basal Cell Carcinoma scar and to discuss the Efudex effects. That seems like a long way off at the moment so, in the meantime, I’m going to treat my poor old nose with a little tlc …

Day 28 – what a difference a couple of days make!

December 11, 2011 Leave a comment
Skin effects after 28 days of Efudix treatment

The wonders of Efudix!

Well, a couple of days really does make a difference when it comes to Efudix – how much better does my nose look compared to my last post!  Only a very small amount of scabbing on the bridge of my nose now and it’s more pink rather than scarey red, which I can deal with.  The Efudix has clearly really dried the skin on my nose so I’m still plastering on the Vaseline.

And my Basal Cell Carcinoma scar is healing pretty well also which is good news.  I’m still massaging it daily as advised.  Not sure how long I’m supposed to continue doing so but, will continue until it appears to make no difference. I’m just amazed how well it’s doing considering the size of the wound I had immediately after the operation.  Just thinking back to those early days reminds me how far I’ve come and how well it’s healed. Happy days …

Appropriate sun exposure prevents skin cancer!

December 10, 2011 Leave a comment
The Sun
Image via Wikipedia

Came across this interesting article today which challenges conventional thinking about the relationship between sun exposure and increases in the incidence of Melanoma. Apparently, several studies have shown that appropriate sun exposure can actually prevent skin cancer.  The rationale is that your body converts the vitamin D your body makes from sun exposure into a compound (Calcitriol) that your organs use to prepare damage from cancer cells and tumours.  It goes on to recommend exposing your uncovered skin to produce a light pink colour for optimal vitamin D production: 10 to 20 minutes for fair skinned people. The key is simply not to get burned.

Interesting stuff and seems to support my view that moderate sun exposure and appropriate protection is the way to go (though the article goes on to say that suncreams block UVB rays and hence production of vitamin D. And I’m finding it hard to accept the idea of not using sun protection even for a short period of time out in the sun) .  I’d recommend you read the full article and would be interested in your thoughts.

Day 25 – 4 days after Efudix

December 7, 2011 Leave a comment
25 days of Efudix treatment

Further recovery after 4 days

Well, whilst my nose still looks hideously red, the scabbing is clearly reducing and my nose is slowly getting back to ‘normal’.  Looks like the Efudix is finally starting to lose its hold – its done its job and it’s now time to heal, hoorah!


%d bloggers like this: