- A Texas woman never thought the dark spot on her right pinky toe could be melanoma, not even when pedicurists kept asking about it.
- The specific type of melanoma Yvonne Basil was diagnosed with is called acral lentiginous melanoma, which appears on the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet or under the nails.
- Melanoma can develop from an existing mole, like in Yvonne’s case, or appear as a dark or pink growth on the skin, even on, or in, parts of the body that never see the sun.
It was just a mole, Yvonne Basil, who lives in Dallas, Texas, would tell them.Read More
The spot was charcoal-colored and about the size of a pencil erased. Since it was located on the skin under her right pinky toenail, she didn’t think much of it because she couldn’t see it. (Out of sight, out of mind.)
In 2015, Yvonne eventually decided to see a dermatologist in order to use the money she had left on her flexible spending account, and she was left in shock when her seemingly harmless skin check-up led to the need for a biopsy of her “mole.” That’s because her doctor flagged the spot as suspected melanoma.
Her diagnosis of melanoma was confirmed shortly after her biopsy about a week later.
“It just totally took me just by surprise,” she said. “It just didn’t register — I can’t say that enough.”
The specific type of melanoma Yvonne was diagnosed with is called acral lentiginous melanoma, which appears on the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet or under the nails, according to the AIM at Melanoma.
This type of melanoma is relatively uncommon among the general population, however, ALM is the most common type of melanoma in people with darker skin (Yvonne) and those of Asian descent. But it can appear on all skin types.
“Because of the misconceptions that melanomas only occur in sun-exposed areas and that people of color are not at risk for melanoma, these melanomas can be discovered later than other types, after they have invaded deeper layers of skin or metastasized,” according to AIM.
Yvonne’s right pinky toe had to be amputated in order to prevent the cancer from spreading. She didn’t need further treatment after the amputation since the cancer hadn’t spread.
After the surgery, she had to wear a special boot for a few weeks, and it took several months for Yvonne to be able to even put on her right shoe.
But now, more than five years later, she’s completely used to not having a pinky toe on her right foot.
“I can’t stress it enough, especially people of color, to take this seriously. It’s no joke,” Yvonne said. “You think it won’t happen to you, which is what I thought, too. But it can definitely happen.”
Melanoma is a skin cancer that starts in the cells that give your skin, hair and eyes their color.
“Melanomas are the deadliest type of skin cancer because they have a tendency to spread to other parts of the body,” Dr. Anna Pavlick, an oncologist at Weill Cornell Medicine, previously told SurvivorNet.
Melanoma can develop from an existing mole, like in Yvonne’s case, or appear as a dark or pink growth on the skin, even on, or in, parts of the body that never see the sun.
Paying attention to moles or growths on your skin is an easy way to keep an eye out for melanoma. Discovering changes to an existing mole or a new growth on your skin can be signs of this cancer, according to SurvivorNet experts.
Spots on your skin can be harmless, but it’s important to monitor them and contact your doctor if you find cause for concern. Using sunscreen regularly can also lower your risk of developing melanoma.