British comedian, John Cleese, 80, announced he’d had a ‘cancerous bit’ removed from his leg. “Had a minor operation on Friday,” he shared with his 5.7 million Twitter followers. “Very minor. At my age, this sort of thing happens about once a week. He did a beautiful job, sewed it up and said, ’tis but a scratch.'”
This is the second brush with cancer for Cleese, who revealed a prostate cancer scare in 1996. He later said his close-call inspired him to “live on the basis that I might at any given moment fall under a bus,” said The Sun.
Had a minor operation on FridayRead MoreA surgeon cut a small cancerous bit out of my leg
Very minor. At my age this sort of thing happens about once a week
He did a beautiful job, sewed it up and said ” Tis but a scratch ”
— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) June 8, 2020
Cleese, whose latest book “Creativity” is scheduled for release in September, rose to fame in 1968 with groundbreaking comedy sketch show Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The group included Graham Chapman (who died of tonsil cancer in 1989), Sir Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, and Eric Idle. He was also beloved for his role in the British comedy, Fawlty Towers.
Skin Cancer Surgeries
While Cleese was not specific about the “cancerous bit” he had removed, according to the American Cancer Society in-office surgeries are often used to treat basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. Surgical options depend on the type of skin cancer, how large the cancer is,
and where it is on the body, among other factors. For skin cancers with a high risk of spreading, surgery sometimes will be followed by other treatments, such as radiation or chemotherapy.
For this procedure, after skin is first numbed with a local anesthetic, the tumor is then cut out with a surgical knife, along with some surrounding normal skin. Most often, the remaining skin is then carefully stitched back together. This type of surgery will leave a scar.
Curettage and Electrodesiccation
In this treatment, the doctor removes the cancer by scraping it with a long, thin instrument with a sharp looped edge on one end (called a curette). The area is then treated with an electric needle (electrode) to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
This process may be repeated once or twice during the same office visit. Curettage and electrodesiccation is a good treatment for superficial basal cell and squamous cell cancers that are confined to the top layer of skin. It will leave a scar.
In Mohs surgery (also known as Mohs micrographic surgery, or MMS) the surgeon removes a very thin layer of the skin (including the tumor) and then checks the removed sample under a microscope. “You’re able to remove a very conservative margin around the cancer and study it in essentially real-time,” explains Dr. Sumaira Aasi, Professor of Dermatology and Director of Mohs and Dermatologic Surgery at Stanford.
Dr. Sumaira Aasi, Professor of Dermatology and Director of Mohs and Dermatologic Surgery at Stanford explains the benefits of Mohs surgery for skin cancer.
If cancer cells are seen, another layer is removed and examined. This is repeated until the skin samples are free of cancer cells. This is a slow process, but it means that more normal skin near the tumor can be saved. More complex and time-consuming than other methods, Mohs is sometimes used when there is a high risk the skin cancer may come back after treatment.
Cleese’s Anti-Smoking Campaigns
Cleese, who launched an Instagram account in the early weeks of quarantine, has shared throwback posts like this one from his quit-smoking series (below) sponsored by England’s Health Education Authority (HEA).
The campaign, which ran from 1992-1994 generated 20,000 calls to the British “Quitline” and data proved that the groups exposed to the ads quit smoking at a higher rate than groups that hadn’t seen the commercials
“Last Time You See Me Before I Die”
Due to pandemic, Cleese recently rescheduled his 2020 European tour, “Last Time You See Me Before I Die” announcing new dates in 2021. “Based on how 2020 has been progressing, this may be the last time any of us see each other!” he told fans on Instagram, adding “please buy the tickets before the murder hornets do.”
The comedian has expressed delight that his famous “Ministry of Silly Walks” sketch has become popular again during quarantine, with families posting “silly walk zones” in neighborhoods and posting videos that have gone viral: “Bravo,” he said of @yorkshire.silly.walks in an Instagram post. This made me so happy to see.”