Easy, Peasy Cryosurgery

This is the feel good blog, the one to reassure you about a medical procedure.  I have a friend who worries that my blogs scare people… and maybe they do, but they’re meant to be informational – just informational.  Except this one.  This one is definitely meant to be reassuring.happy-woman

With all the medical messes, we’ve had lately (she writes as her chest burns and a headache creeps in) the solution to this one was the safest and quickest. The procedure to correct it is non-invasive, doesn’t enter the body in any way, and – therefore – is totally safe for Chronic Kidney Disease patients.

I know, I know, slow down.  Okay, from the beginning:

Skin cancer is responsible for almost half the cancer cases. According to the American Cancer Society’s “Skin Cancer Facts,” it is expected there will be 76,600 cases of melanoma this year alone. Melanoma, the most dangerous of the skin cancers, has made its unwelcome appearance in my family, so every year – well, it’ll be every six months after this episode – I submit to a full body scan by Dr. Christle J. Layton of Affiliated Dermatology right here in Glendale, Arizona. I say submit because I’m an old fashioned prude these days.  However, she does manage to put me at ease each time.

During this last exam, Dr. Layton found something on my forehead… but it wasn’t cancerous, just precancerous.  That, of course, was enough to get me researching.  Here’s where I insert the usual disclaimer: I am not a doctor, folks, just someone with CKD who doesn’t want to make her kidneys function even less effectively because she unwittingly had some medical procedure she shouldn’t have.

IMG_4813What Dr. Layton found is called actinic keratosis.  This is also called solar keratosis and senile keratosis.  I immediately latched on to the last name for this kind of precancer.  According to http://www.healthy-skincare.com/senile-keratosis.html, “Senile keratosis is essentially a form of solar or actinic keratosis. However, the difference is that the senile form of this skin condition specifically refers to the elderly. Generally, this form of keratoses appears in individuals who are older than 50.”  That’s the second time in one week this 66 year old has been referred to as elderly.  Oh right, don’t get side tracked.

Then I checked solar keratosis and found the following at http://solar-keratosis.com/, an Australian site. “Solar Keratosis (Actinic keratosis) is a common premalignant skin lesion seen on areas of the body that have been exposed to sun. Premalignant means that the lesions have the potential to become skin cancer.”

So, solar, senile and actinic keratosis are the same precancerous condition.  One thing that disturbed me about the information is that while I am light skinned-  and so – prone to this type of precancer, it was on my forehead.  Those of you who know me also know that I always have curls tumbling down across my forehead, including the affected area.  This means it wasn’t exposed to the sun and I avoid the sun at all costs anyway.  This IS Arizona.

I was puzzled and dug further. MedicineNet at http://www.medicinenet.com/actinic_keratosis/page2.htm must have been listening to me.  This is what I found there: new headshot

When patients are diagnosed with this condition, they often say, “But I never go out in the sun!” The explanation is that it takes many years or even decades for these keratoses to develop. Typically, the predisposing sun exposure may have occurred many years ago. Short periods of sun exposure do not generally either produce AKs or transform them into skin cancers.

I do remember being talked into (I didn’t develop this strong personality until later in life) using aluminum foil to make a sun reflector so I could tan as a teen ager.  I was so fair that it never worked.  Come to think of it, no one really knew about the ultraviolet rays of the sun/skin cancer connection at that time.  Did they?

Ready to find out about this painless, quick, non-kidney threatening treatment?  It was cryosurgery, which I’ve discussed before.  The simplest definition is the one I found at WebMD: “Cryosurgery is the process of destroying a skin cancer (lesion) by freezing it with liquid nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen is applied to the lesion using a cotton applicator stick or an aerosol spray.” You can find more information about this at http://www.webmd.com/cancer/cryosurgery-for-nonmelanoma-skin-cancer.

When Dr. Layton was done spraying the area, I asked her what was next.  She started telling me I need to clean the area with soap and water, then pat it dry.  I thought that was an odd answer and asked again.  We both realized at the same time that there was no ‘next’ for this procedure.  It was done.cryosurgery

Sometimes, there’s a blister after the procedure.  If so, I was to use an antibiotic ointment and perhaps a band-aid over the area until the blister dries. I may have a scar.  Good, maybe it’ll balance out all the scars on my arms (carpal tunnel surgery, a crazy very big dog we had, bad attempts at food prep and ironing, etc.).  It may also remain white.  Who cares?  It is under my curls, as I’ve mentioned.

I never experienced the burning sensation or pain that others might in the first 24 hours.  It, well, spidey tingled. Whoops!  I think I’m aging myself again.

I am relieved and gratified that this was so simple.  I’m also gratified that European sales of the book are doing so well.  Please spread the word that if you have EVER bought a print copy of the book on Amazon, you can now buy the digital edition for only $2.99 instead of the regular $9.95.Book Cover

I have been sick for ever, or maybe it’s more like 10 days, and have had to cancel attending numerous events (like SlowItDown’s kidney education class on the Salt River Pima – Maricopa Indian Community,  some Landmark events and classes,  appointments with friends).  The world didn’t end.  Lesson learned: rest when you need to; the world will be waiting when you get back.  Thank you to our children and neighbors for coming to our rescue when we just couldn’t do for ourselves, to the EMTs when Bear’s fever was out of control, and to those who kept my spirit up via texts and Facebook posts.  It got us through!

Has anyone ever read an advice column called Dear Annie?

Until next week,

Keep living your life!