Dealing With a Skin Cancer Diagnosis
- Stacey Boss, 32, thought a mark on her nail was a bruise. But tests revealed it was a rare form of skin cancer.
- A nail technician urged her to get the mark checked, and Boss says they may have saved her life.
- Subungual melanoma is a type of skin cancer that forms under the nails.
- Subungual melanomas are rare only accounting for “0.7% to 3.5% of all melanoma cases,” according to the Moffit Cancer Center.
- Doing regular self-checks on your skin is important to find skin cancer early. SurvivorNet experts recommend remembering the “ABCDE” method to check for skin cancer.
Stacey Boss, 32, thought a small mark on her nail was a bruise — a conclusion many of us probably would have come to as well. But when her nail technician urged her to get it checked out, tests revealed that the mark was actually a rare skin cancer.
Boss said she discovered a discolored marking the her fingernail in 2019.Read More
Boss said she eventually had a dermatologist conduct a biopsy last year. The result led to a subungual melanoma diagnosis. This type of skin cancer forms under the nails, the Moffitt Cancer Center explains.
Boss underwent a procedure to have the “nail removed along with part of her finger bone,” Tyla reported.
The experience left Boss grateful to her nail technician for sounding the alarm.
“The nail technician possibly saved my life, she’s well trained and was very aware more than me. I’d tell others to check your nails maybe not a daily thing but every now and again,” Boss said.
Understanding Subungual Melanoma
Subungual melanomas are rare, only accounting for “0.7% to 3.5% of all melanoma cases,” according to the Moffit Cancer Center.
Researchers with University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust said that subungual melanoma “does not appear to be related to sun exposure.” They attribute its cause to an “increased melanin production by the melanocytes.” Melanocyte cells produce melanin that gives your skin and eyes their color.
According to Moffitt Cancer Center, risk factors for subungual melanomas may include:
- Being over 50 years old
- You have plenty of moles
- You have a weakened immune system
- Have a family his of melanoma
Expert Skin Cancer Information
- 3 Skin Cancer Myths, Busted: Can One Bad Sun Burn Cause Cancer?
- Do The UV Lamps At Nail Salons Increase Risk Of Skin Cancer?
- Cancer-Causing Chemical Found in Banana Boat Sunscreen Leads to Recall; How to Select the Right Sunscreen for Your Skin
- Signs of Skin Cancer Can Show Up On Your Nails, But Don’t Jump to Conclusions Just Yet
Symptoms for subungual melanoma may include:
- A thin or cracked nail
- Painful nail
- The nail separates from the skin
- Nail bleeding
- An ulcer or nodule beneath the nail
If skin cancer is confirmed in your fingernails, your doctor may consider surgery to remove the cancer. Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy are sometimes considered after surgery.
Tips for Checking for Skin Cancer
When it comes to more common skin cancers, like those from sun exposure, doing regular self-checks on your skin is important to find skin cancer early. If you’re high-risk, it’s especially vital.
WATCH: How to conduct a self-exam for skin cancer?
Dr. Cecilia Larocca, a dermatologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, recommends looking at your skin once a month for anything suspicious–and using the acronym ABCDE as a checklist:
- Asymmetrical moles: If you drew a line straight down the center of the mole, would the sides match? If not, your mole is considered asymmetrical.
- Borders: The edges of your mole look irregular, jagged, or uneven; can also stand for bleeding
- Colors: Multiple distinct colors in the mole, including patches of pink, brown, grey, and black—but could be any color
- Diameter: Larger than 6mm, about the size of a pencil head eraser
- Evolution: Anything that’s changing over time such as gaining color, losing color, pain, itching, changing shape, etc.
Questions for Your Doctor
If you are diagnosed with a form of skin cancer, here are some questions you may consider asking your doctor.
- What kind of skin cancer do I have?
- Will I need surgery to rid myself of the cancer?
- What financial resources are available to help cover costs associated with treatment?
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