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Friday, February 15, 2013

Skin Biopsy

Today I received a letter from my dermatologist, Dr. Reohr, explaining the biopsy results for the scraping sample she recently took from my left arm.  In her words, "The pathology report shows an actinic keratosis with syringomatous proliferation."  WTF?  Now there's a mouthful!

My first thought was that the more words it takes to describe an affliction, the worse it probably is.  However, she went on to explain that this skin growth is precancerous, but if left untreated, it could eventually form a skin cancer.  She scheduled an appointment for me to go in next month to determine if more treatment is necessary.

Next, of course, I went online to find out what all this stuff means.  According to WebMD, actinic keratosis is "a premalignant warty lesion occurring on the sun-exposed skin of the face or hands in aged light-skinned persons."  Did you notice the word "aged" in there?  I put it in italics so you couldn't miss it.  Shit!  I have never had a diagnosis that specifically categorized me as aged.  Then I noticed that one of the synonyms was "senile keratosis"! So I'm both aged and senile?  My ass!  I have half a mind to...let's just leave it at that (just like my half a wit).

Further research revealed that in about 15-20% of cases, actinic keratosis can evolve into squamous cell carcinoma.  This is the second most common skin cancer, behind basal cell carcinoma.  I had one instance of squamous cell skin cancer a number of years ago, which was dealt with successfully.  Of course even if this actinic keratosis eventually progressed, it would be less serious than melanoma, but there is no reason not to deal with this expeditiously NOW.

But what about "syringomatous proliferation"?  That one was tougher to find.  I know what proliferation means, but I found that syringomas are lesions of the sweat gland ducts that occur most commonly in women, frequently on the lower eyelid.  Hmmm.  I'm having difficulty reconciling a problem with women's eyelid sweat glands that would contribute to proliferating a lesion on my left arm. The connection eludes me.  I'll have to make a note to ask this question when I meet with Dr. Reohr again next month.  (I may be too aged and senile to remember to ask unless I write it down.)

Next Tuesday, I go back to the Farber ( as I will now call it since reading the book "Emperor of All Maladies") for my monthly checkup.  I will have more to say on that book when I finish reading it.  Of course that means Monday is 24-hour urine collection day, and I'm out of bottles.  What to do, what to do?  Then on Thursday, I plan to have lunch with Mike, a fellow MM patient from New York, who will be in Boston for the day. We have met before, and I am looking forward to catching up with him and finding out how he is doing with his new therapy.  He didn't do so well on MLN9708, which is really too bad.  I hope things are looking up for him.

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