Patient encourages others to get screened for skin cancer sooner than later

Jul 22, 2020
Screenings for world’s most common cancer are down
Patient Cecilia Nguyen is thankful her skin cancer was caught early during a screening and removed.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease. Yet, statistics show that Americans are delaying appointments for screenings for cancers of the skin, cervix, colon, and breast. In March, screenings across the U.S. dropped between 86 percent and 94 percent, compared to average volumes in the three years before the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the U.S. Diagnoses of skin cancer, which is the world’s most common cancer, are also down across the country. This trend is worrying physicians who fear that deadly cancers, such as melanomas, could go undetected and put patients at risk if they don’t schedule screening appointments soon. 

Cecilia Nguyen, 35, never imagined the tiny pen-tip-sized dot of a mole on the left side of her nose could be problematic. “It would sometimes bleed and scab, but I thought it would go away,” Nguyen said. She dismissed it for several months. But after returning home from a vacation on the sunny beaches of Mexico, Nguyen noticed the mole had grown. She decided to have her doctor examine and take a biopsy of the growth. Two weeks later, the results were positive for Basal Cell Carcinoma, a form of skin cancer.

Agustín Cornejo, M.D., a plastic and reconstructive surgeon who practices at North Central Baptist Hospital, diagnosed and removed Nguyen’s cancerous mole in a 10-minute procedure in his office and sent Nguyen to undergo a Mohs micrographic surgical procedure. Mohs allows for further removal of cancerous cells while sparing healthy tissue and leaving the smallest scar possible.

“Patients who may have put off coming in for skin cancer or any type of cancer screening, should make every effort to schedule an appointment and see their physician,” Dr. Cornejo said. “It is safe for in-person appointments and important for the doctor to get a close-up view of the skin for diagnosis. When caught early skin cancers and most cancers are almost always curable,” he said.

Cecilia Nguyen agrees. “I’m fortunate my carcinoma was removed quickly. With the hot summer months upon us, I urge others to be aware of any changes in their skin and their bodies as a whole, to protect themselves and to seek medical help early before a cancer diagnosis,” she said.

Source: The American Cancer Society, EHRN, and the Skin Cancer Foundation

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