… 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.
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.
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:
- Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer
- It’s considered malignant despite the fact that it rarely metastatises or results in death
- Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common form of cancer in Europe, Australia and USA
- Around 3 out of 10 Caucasians develop Basal Cell Carcinoma in their lifetime. That’s quite a statistic!
- 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
- 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
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
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 …
First Efudix update for 2 weeks. Had a minor, unrelated op (removal of a milk duct - due to Duct Ectasia, a benign condition of ageing!) so have been focussing on that more than my nose recently. Continued with daily photo session to track the progress of the Efudex treatment so now picking back up where I left off …
A great relief not having to apply the Fluorouracil cream today, but simply replacing one routine with another – now have to apply Vaseline to the treated area daily. I think the Vaseline makes the Efudix effects look even more startling because it really makes my nose shine. It’s clear from the above picture just how much of my nose was sun damaged – there are very few white patches indicating areas where the Efudix had nothing to attack. This just goes to highlight even more why the Efudex treatment was the right thing to do. So now it’s just a waiting game to see quite how long it’ll take for my nose to resume it’s normal appearance ..
I can’t believe it, my three weeks of applying Efudix is finally over! I’ve just applied my final cream. It feels so weird, having dominated my life so much for the last three weeks.
Luckily, I didn’t get the horrid burning sensation I was expecting each day when applying the Efudix - I literally expected to be crying out as it touched my skin! Ridiculous really, was totally psychological tied up in the fact that I knew it was essentially eating away at any pre-cancerous cells it detected so I expected it to physically burn as I applied it (because this would be evidence that it was working I suppose – as if the hideous redness and scabbing hasn’t been evidence enough!). My nose has felt ever so slightly sore to the touch occassionally but I certainly haven’t felt burning upon application thank goodness.
From tomorrow, I’ve got to apply Vaseline to my nose every day until the Efudix effects dissipate. Hopefully that will be very soothing but I don’t anticipate being able to apply make-up over Vaseline so will either have to hibernate or face up to going out looking burnt and scabby. Watch this space … Oh dear, that sounds so vain. I need to stop being so and just be grateful that the pre-cancerous cells have been killed off by the Fluorouracil and I’ll shortly be able to put this whole thing behind me!
Having read other people’s experiences, I don’t think I’m quite out of the woods yet – it would seem that the cream continues to have an effect even after you’ve stopped applying it, but the end is in sight and at least I don’t have to go through the rigmarole of applying it every day. Hoorah!
Well, the good news is that tomorrow is the last day of Efudix for me – hoorah! Something tells me that it’s not the end of the road though. Take a look at today’s photo and you’ll see what I mean. Sorry, prepare yourself, it’s not pretty! I’m horrified looking at it myself. Efudix is a cruel beast! Cruel only because my nose looks horrific – it’s actually not sore or painful in any way. To be fair, I’m really lucky – a lot of other people report wanting to ‘rip their faces’ off because their skin is so sore during treatment. I can only assume that my reaction is less severe because I’m only treating a small area of my face and, potentially, my sun damage isn’t as bad. The main thing is, the Fluorouracil is doing what it should be doing and this will all soon be behind me.
Day 19 on Efudix and more of the same: more scabbing around the bridge of my nose, some more dry skin and the main scab is even worse looking and really itchy. The yellow monster scab was itching really badly in the middle of the night and I caught it with my nail whilst trying to gently scratch it – and it was sore! What’s my skin going to be like when this scab falls off? – looks like it’s going to be tender.
Getting more and more introspective by the day/feeling more and more sorry for myself. When I feel like that, I hit Google and take a look at other users ‘ Efudix blogs. Just seeing pictures of other people going through the same thing and the effects that the cream has had on them makes me feel a bit better – it at least reassures me that what I’m experiencing is a perfectly normal reaction to Fluorouracil. And really hammers home how lucky I am that I’m only treating my face.
Came across another couple of interesting skin cancer articles today:
My nose seems to have taken on a more uniform redness today and the bridge is starting to feel a bit sore. As my nose gets redder and scabbier, the implications start to sink in – any skin that reacts to the Efudix is showing evidence of pre-cancerous cells that could have developed into a Basal Cell Carcinoma if left untreated! Whilst I expected the skin to react to the Fluouracil and for the effects to get worse over time, I’m still shocked (I’d go so far as to say overwhelmed) every time I look in the mirror. It’s no surprise that my nose is taking on such a uniform redness really as my nose used to sunburn badly when I was younger and that’s what clearly caused the damage.
I just wish I could be more rational in dealing with this experience – I’m an intelligent woman, I’ve done my research so know how the Efudix works and what to expect but I’m still finding it difficult. I’m so emotional and find myself filling up with tears at the slightest thing – I guess I’ve got too much thinking time on my hands at the mo so need a distraction. The problem is I don’t feel very sociable – I’ve cancelled a couple of catch ups with friends for exactly that reason. Must stop feeling sorry for myself and just get on with it …
Found an interesting piece of research today – a sleeping sickness drug that has a significant protective effect against basal cell carcinoma. Will be keeping my eye on developments.
As you can see in today’s photo, the scab on the right hand side of my nose has spread again today. It looks really unattractive – it’s taken on a yellow tinge that makes me look (and feel) unclean. And trying to cover it with make-up is pretty pointless – the make-up simply coagulates on the scab and just looks really crusty and horrible (the Efudix is greasy which doesn’t help). I had to go shopping today so did the best I could to cover it up, put on a peaked cap and pulled it down as low as possible in an attempt to shield as much of my face as possible but I still felt really self-conscious. I couldn’t get home quick enough.
The area of skin erosion seems deeper today. And, the redness gives the impression that my nose is sore but, actually it isn’t – just itchy.
Thank goodness I don’t have to go to work at the moment and, don’t have to go out if I really don’t need to because this whole Efudix treatment really is making me feel manky.
Efudex? Efudix? ? I’ve decided to call it Fluorouracil today! And, today’s day 15…
It really is all starting to get rather routine now - Fluorouracil application in the morning, Fluorouracil application in the evening and a photo session to round the day off! Despite seeing my nose in the mirror several times a day, seeing a photo of myself with an increasingly grotesque looking nose somehow makes the whole treatment feel even more startling.
Surprise, suprise, my nose is generally looking more red today. And, I’ve started to get a new scab on the bridge of my nose. Oh, and just look at what’s happening to the scab under my right nostril – it seems to be turning a rather hideous shade of yellow!
Have been feeling rather sorry for myself again today and forced myself to go up the gym just to get myself out of the house. My nose generally goes rather red when I work out so you can imagine the state of it by the end of my session today! Let’s just say I had a number of sideways glances from my gym ‘buddies’!