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Medical Edge: Mercy Health surgeon removes skin cancer

Updated: Monday, June 2 2014, 10:20 PM EDT
CINCINNATI (Liz Bonis) -- A local woman credits skin cancer specialists at Mercy Health with allowing her to have her skin cancer removed before it spread.

She shares her story to remind all of us how important it is to protect our skin, especially in our younger years.  Think about this as you soak up the sun this summer, most importantly if you have young children.  A report just released from the American Association of Cancer Research says as few as five blistering sunburns before age 20 can up the odds of the most deadly form of skin cancer or melanoma by up to 80 percent.
 
Nanette Bentley says she's proof this may be true, "I grew up in southern California, and I am of the age we just didn't have an awareness of the sun and the dangers of that time and I burned plenty."

Luckily hers turned out not to be the deadly kind.  It's what's known as a basal cell carcinoma, more of a surface skin cancer that doesn't usually penetrate the skin and go to other organs.  But Doctor Emily Fisher says it's still important to remove it.

Dr. Fisher said, "I've seen some basal cells take off someones ear completely, take over their nose completely, so that's of course the worse case scenario."

Nanette let Local 12 in on her skin cancer removal procedure to remind all of us about the importance of sun protection.  And that you need to have suspicious moles checked out, that's how she found her cancer.

Bentley said, "I felt a little bump on the side of my nose, and it didn't go away."
 
After tests confirmed it was skin cancer Nanette consulted Doctor Emily Fisher.  She specializes in what's called a "Moh's procedure" to remove it.  The procedure is named after Doctor Frederic Mohs who created it.

Dr. Fisher tells Local 12, "It's a type of procedure used to treat primarily non-melanoma types of skin cancer."

Here's how it works: Nanette stays awake through the whole procedure. The area is numbed with an injection and then the first layer of cells are removed.  Those cells are then taken to the lab right next to Dr. Fisher's procedure room because she is in what's called a "Moh's surgery center."  They are then put on a slide so Doctor Fisher can then examine them under a microscope.

"I am looking for any remnants of skin cancer that are still left, it could be a few cells, it could be a great majority of the cells that are still positive for skin cancer.  But it all tells me under the microscope what's still there," Dr. Fisher said.

What makes this procedure unique is that they continue to do that until they get all of those cells removed.  And they can see that in the laboratory.  It is important then for the patient to know that all of those cells have been removed and the cure rate is higher than 99 percent.

Nanette had hers all removed on the first take, so the area was then repaired and few stitches were put in until it heals.  The great thing about this procedure is that when the patient leaves the skin cancer is gone! 

Gone,but not forgotten Nannette Bently says, "I am happy it's something treatable, and not something more serious, I feel lucky."

If you'd like details about this procedure CLICK HERE.




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