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Skin, Left Anterior Proximal, Upper Arm

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

About a week and a half ago, I went to see a new dermatologist, the one I had been seeing having retired. The reason for my visit was an annoying skin tag that was dangling from my left upper eyelid. While I was there, the doctor checked my body for suspicious signs of skin cancer—this being Sunny Southern California. I was surprised to learn a few days later that one of the three suspicious signs did indeed prove upon biopsy to be a “Squamous cell carcinoma in situ (Bowen’s disease), lesional cells extend to a peripheral edge of the biopsy.” It looked very much like the one in the above photograph.

Within two hours, I was in the doctor’s office having a lozenge-shaped piece of tissue from my left arm removed and replaced with several stitches. I was rather surprised by the outcome, because that portion of my upper left arm was never directly exposed to sunshine: I never work tank tops or other “young men’s folly” types of T-shirts. The skin cancer cells ignored my cotton/polyester blend shirts and started their nefarious work where I did not expect it.

Fortunately, the particular bump that was removed had just appeared one or two weeks previously; so we likely stopped it at an early stage.

I remember one of my friends lost his father because he was used to hanging his left arm outside the open window of his automobile. He got some form of skin cancer, did not seek treatment, and eventually the cancer metastasized and killed him. He did most of his driving in the San Fernando Valley, an inordinately hot part of L.A. I never hang my arm out the window: I use it to aid me in steering my car. Besides, my window is usually closed in summer because I have the air conditioner on.

Life is a bunch of close calls. I think I ducked this particular bullet.