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Bob Phagan's cancer treatment story

Bob Phagan's cancer treatment story

In a blog earlier this summer, the Heptner Cancer Center shared six tips to help prevent and detect skin cancer. Today they would like to share the different treatment options a patient with skin cancer has.

Many people are first diagnosed with skin cancer by either a dermatologist or a family medicine doctor. At times, not all of the patient's options for treatment will be discussed upon diagnosis. The most common form of treatment for skin cancer is Mohs Surgery. This process involves using a scalpel to remove the visible tumor along with a thin layer of tissue around it. It is inspected, and if cancer cells are still present the procedure is repeated until all tumor cells are removed. While this may be convenient for time, it will most likely scar, not leaving the patient with the best cosmetic outcome.

However, a treatment option that is rarely shared with patients is radiation. Unlike Mohs, there is no cutting, digging, or scarring. Instead, patients receive direct radiation treatment to the affected area to kill the cancer cells. Dr. John Stamato, radiation ocologist, shared, "The typical radiation treatment for skin cancer is once a day for six weeks. However, I can adapt the treatment to each individual. So for people out of town I adjust the treatment so that they finish sooner, or have to come to Gillette less often."

The cosmetic benefits of radiation alone are unbelievable when compared to procedures such as Mohs or excisional surgery. Robert "Bob" Phagan is a prime example of this as he just completed his radiation treatments for skin cancer on his nose.

nurse with Bob

"I had a sore on my nose that wouldn't heal, and I waited a long time before I decided I should have someone look at it. I was suspicious of the possiblity of it being cancer because I have known people that have had skin cancer before," shared Bob.

Both of Bob's in-laws had actually taken treatments under Dr. John Stamato. "Normally you would go to a general provider and then they would refer you to a dermatologist," explained Bob. "I was familiar with Stamato, so we made an appointment with him. He took a biopsy and sure enough it was a carcinoma."

Dr. Stamato then took the time to explain all the treatment options, and Bob decided to go with radiation. He jokingly said, "I'm vain, like anyone, and I had two holes there and I wanted to leave it that way." Dr. Stamato then set Bob up with six weeks of treatments,or 30 days.

When asked to describe the treatment process Bob said, "You're in for five minutes at most, really no pain, and it just kind of looks like you have a sunburn." Now, Bob has one more check-up and then his treatment will be done and he'll be cancer free. What a great outcome for something he admittedly put off having checked.

Telling us more about his experience at the Cancer Care Center Bob said, "The people in here are all very professional and congenial, and Dr. Stamato is very good." Bob also joked that the cookies available in the waiting area were nice to have when he came in for his treatments.

Luckily, Bob knew radiation was a treatment option for skin cancer patients, but very few people do. You can learn more about this treatment option available in Gillette at the Heptner Cancer Center by calling 307-688-1950 or visiting www.cchwyo.org/cancercare. Make sure you know all your skin cancer treatment options before you make a decision.