He Warns People About the Reason of Why His Face Was Eaten Alive
In July 2013, Peter Lisle noticed a cold sore growing on his lip. He didn’t think anything of it and assumed it would fade away in a few days.
The truth wound up ravaging his face, necessitating multiple surgeries and leaving his family thousands of dollars in debt.
The culprit was squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), a rare and aggressive form of cancer that causes uncontrollable growths and lesions in the infected areas. Though it most commonly affects the skin, it can also grow in the lungs, mouth, esophagus, cervix, digestive tract and genital region. Because it’s so often mistaken for other things, like cold sores, it can be difficult to diagnose and treat before it spreads to multiple areas in the body.
In simple terms, SCC is caused by overactive cells. Squamous cells comprise a large portion of the epidermis (the top layer of human skin), and they aren’t supposed to reproduce as rapidly as SCC makes them, resulting in large, abnormal growths in the infected areas. The exact reasons behind this extreme cell duplication are varied.
The symptoms of SCC will vary wildly depending on where the cancer localizes. For example, people like Peter Lisle are affected in their facial area, so their SCC manifests around the mouth and spreads across the jaw and cheeks. Someone else suffering from SCC in the lower body might notice growths in their genital area or might have trouble sitting or standing.
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Regardless of their location, however, many SCC growths follow the same pattern:
– They’re red or purple in color, and they look like tumors, ulcers or cold sores.
– They don’t fade with time, or they get bigger as time passes.
– They bleed intermittently.
– They spread across their affected areas, such as spreading from the mouth to the jaw.
– They have or develop hard, raised edges.
While SCC affects people from all walks of life, there are certain groups genetically predisposed to the condition, including:
– People with light skin and fair hair.
– People with blue or green eyes.
– The elderly, especially those older than 50.
– Outdoor workers who are frequently exposed to direct sunlight.
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SCC is most commonly treated with surgical excisions and extractions. By the time the cancer has been diagnosed, non-surgical options like radiotherapy are usually ineffective, though they can be helpful if the cancer is caught early enough. The prognosis of SCC depends entirely on when and where it’s found on the body.
The easiest way to combat SCC is to not get it at all. While there’s no foolproof method of preventing it, there are several ways to minimize your risk, including staying out of the sun or wearing adequate sunscreen if exposure to UVA/UVB rays is unavoidable. You should also pay close attention to any growths around your lips, mouth, throat or lower body. If they aren’t healing like they should, contact your doctor and ask specifically about SCC.
Living With SCC
Peter Lisle is currently raising money to pay for his second round of surgeries. Despite the successful removal of his tumors during his first hospital stay in 2013, the cancer returned in 2015, this time further back inside his mouth. Doctors were forced to take skin from his forehead and bone from his thigh to re-create his face after removing the SCC growths. At one point the opening of his mouth was no bigger than a pencil.
Lisle is staying upbeat, however, and he’s taking this opportunity to spread awareness of the dangers of squamous cell carcinoma.
“I’m trying to keep positive now and hoping for a good future,” he told reporters.