Don’t ignore the signs of skin cancer. Here’s what you need to know


Left: Stacey Schmidt after Moh’s nose surgery. Right: Schmidt’s nose after recovering from Mohs surgery. | Stacey Schmidt

POCATELLO – When Pocatello native Stacey Schmidt noticed a “scaly patch” on her nose, she thought nothing of it. But years later, she received a life-changing medical diagnosis.

48-year-old Schmidt said that he noticed the spot on his nose in 2018. He sometimes remembered the sting and scratched it. Finally he met Dr. Earl Stoddard, a dermatologist and Mohs surgeon, says this means he uses a precise surgical approach to skin cancer treatment at the Idaho Skin Institute in Chubbuck. He is also on the staff of Portnef Medical Center.

Stoddard told Schmidt that it might be precancerous, and he prescribed an ointment to apply to the affected area. In 2021, he noticed that the patch was returning and revised it. That’s when he learned he had basal cell carcinoma. He underwent a thin Mohs procedure in February 2022, in which thin layers of cancerous skin are removed and examined until cancer-free tissue is left.

“They cut the injury. (Zara) was probably about the size of my pinky nail, but it cut, it looked like a lightning bolt, … probably 5 millimeters by 5 millimeters … So it kind of held it together and made it look wrinkle-free,” Schmidt said. . “It’s amazing how well he recovered.”

There are many different types of skin cancer, but Stoddard said three main types account for more than 98% of all skin cancers. The most common skin cancer, he says, is basal cell carcinoma, which alone accounts for more than 80% of all skin cancers, followed by squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, the most serious types of skin cancer.

“I think it’s normal for people to think, ‘If I don’t admit it, it doesn’t exist.'”

In general, Stoddard said people with fair skin, blue eyes and freckles are at higher risk for skin cancer, as are people who live in areas exposed to the sun and the elderly.

“Skin cancer is one of those things that you don’t usually get from a single exposure to the sun,” Stoddard said. “The longer you live and the more exposed your skin is, the more sun damage and the more likely you are to develop skin cancer over time, 1 in 5 Americans — and that includes all ethnicities and skin types. — skin cancer will appear in their lifetime.”

Dr.  Earl Stoddard

Dr. Earl Stoddard, a dermatologist and fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon at the Idaho Skin Institute in Chubbuck. | Idaho Skin Institute

Stoddard advises people to apply sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or higher 10 minutes before going outside and reapply every 80 minutes thereafter, and to wear protective long-sleeved shirts if they’re going to be swimming. If a person will be working outside, he recommends wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and even gloves.

“When your skin starts to burn, you get a lot of blood flow to your skin, and you feel warm because of the burn and the increased blood flow,” she said. “If you shade your skin all day, you don’t have that effect.”

According to Stoddard, Heliocare is a supplement that can be purchased online that helps reduce a person’s sensitivity to the sun.

“It doesn’t replace sunscreen, but it’s a great addition and safe for all ages,” she noted. “And vitamin B3, 500 milligrams twice a day, can help reduce precancerous skin lesions and squamous cell skin cancer.”

While there are steps a person can take to prevent skin cancer, Stoddard and Schmidt encourage people not to wait too long to see a doctor if they think something is wrong.

“I think it’s normal for people to think, ‘If I don’t acknowledge it, it’s not there,'” Schmidt said. “It’s not a good idea to bury your head in the sand because these things are growing.”

Stoddard added: “If you have a mole that you’re worried about or think is changing in appearance — it’s getting darker, bigger, discolored — or if your symptoms are itchy, burning, stinging, or bleeding — you should pay attention to it.” “You don’t want to come. You want to come and check.”

Idaho Skin Institute has clinics in Pocatello, Rexburg, Twin Falls and Burley. According to Stoddard, the Pocatello clinic offers free skin cancer screenings on the first Tuesday of every month at 5 p.m.

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