Skin cancer radiation or surgery gone wrong. What are your options?

My heart goes out to you on this. And I’m sure everyone reading this feels the same way. This is a tough one. None of us would want to accept that nothing can be done. And, almost always there is a path to improvement, even if it’s slow and not perfect. Each skin cancer situation is so unique, that it wouldn’t be fair to give advice without knowing all the details. However, there are some general principles that apply here and I’ll try to help you with those.

First things first:

Try to talk to your doctor and the team you already have in place. I can hear from above that you’ve already tried that. Ask the team that is telling you that nothing can be done, some more questions:

  • First, was a bacterial culture sent on the open wound area? Bacteria are not always obvious and will keep a wound from healing. I can’t emphasize the importance of this enough. And it is simple and inexpensive to do. Your primary care doctor or dermatologist, if not the plastic surgeon, can send this.
  • Anything that your doctor or you are putting on the wound that could be irritating it! Irritating chemicals in skincare products or prescription creams may keep a wound from healing.
  • Are steroid creams being used? If so, talk to your doctor about weaning off them because they will aggravate skin thinning and poor healing over time.
  • Is your nutrition maximized? Protein, vitamins and minerals support the healing process. And NOT smoking. Even 1 cigarette a day will affect wound healing on the face.

What to do when a surgery or other treatment goes wrong:

  • It’s really important to look for other resources!
  • A good, experienced Mohs (specializes in skin cancer surgery) surgeon may have ideas.
  • Is there a wound healing clinic close by or at a larger hospital complex within driving distance.
  • A great nutritionist or naturopath can contribute ideas to facilitate healing.
  • 1-3 more consults with good dermatologists or plastic surgeons may yield helpful ideas.
  • A national recognized clinic, like the Mayo or Cleveland Clinics, will have surgeons, wound clinics and more. Could you drive to one?

The first step is to get the wound to close and heal. The second step is to work with the texture and appearance of the wound. Please stay in touch.

Hope this helps,  Dr. I



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