What Is Subungual Melanoma?
- Maria Sylvia was diagnosed with subungual melanoma, a specific type of skin cancer that lives in the nail bed, after discovering what she thought was “a cool streak in [her] nail.”
- Melanoma, in general, is considered the most deadly type of skin cancer. Paying attention to moles or growths on your skin is an easy way to look out for melanoma since changes to a mole you’ve had for a while or developing a new growth you don’t remembering having on your skin could be signs of of this cancer, according to SurvivorNet’s experts.
- While checking your nails for melanoma skin cancer, look for things like dark streaks and nail splitting. If you see one or any of these indications of skin cancer when examining your nails, don’t jump to the conclusion that you have cancer, but definitely get it checked out.
Sylvia has had the mark on her thumb for a long time. She even found a picture of it from ten years ago, though it was much more faint then.Read More
@invrfoundwaldo Reply to @alec558 ♬ original sound – Maria Sylvia
Unfortunately, it took many doctors visits before someone eventually noticed the mark.
“I was in and out of doctors all the time. I was an athlete, so I was like getting physicals every year,” she said. “No one really noticed it until one time a doctor did notice it. This was probably circa 2014, and they were like, ‘Oh, thats odd, but you don’t really fit the demographics, so if it just grows any bigger, you know, go and see a doctor.'”
It never bothered her, but a friend pushed her to get a biopsy done in January of this year. That’s when she received her diagnosis: subungual melanoma – a type of skin cancer that lives in the nail bed.
“I just didn’t really have any issue and I didn’t have any pain with it, so I just figured it was a mole because that’s what they told me – that it was likely a mole on my nail bed,” she said reminding her viewers that most people seeing a mark on their nail likely just have a mole. “I’m not a doctor, so if you feel unsure about it, I would go see a dermatologist, see if it even warrants a biopsy. But I got a biopsy done.”
She’s since had surgery to remove the cancer, and, in her most recent video, she shared an exciting post-op update: Her pathology results came back clean!
@invrfoundwaldo how much do you wanna bet my finger will look phallic af #UnsealTheMeal #OscarsAtHome #BridgertonScandal #melanoma #fuckcancer💚💙 #darkhumour #skingraft #cancer #WomenOwnedBusiness #InstaxChallenge ♬ original sound – Maria Sylvia
“The cells in the skin around the melanoma that they originally found came back benign, so everything looks good, it didn’t spread” she said. “I’m super lucky and very thankful.”
Because the results came back clear, she was approved for a skin graft from her arm which she recently had done. Her thumb and arm is still all bandaged up, so she doesn’t know what it looks like yet, but she’ll eventually share pictures when all is said and done.
@invrfoundwaldo I wish I were joking lol but i have some awesome photos #SmoothLikeNitroPepsi #theadamproject #cancer #darkhumour #fml #myjourney ♬ original sound – kooze
As for her advice from others: Don’t panic, but it can never hurt to see a doctor when you notice something on you.
“I’m not a doctor, you should see one if you have something that is [of] concern,” she said. “If you have something on you, just got to a doctor.”
What Should You Know about Subungual Melanoma?
When stories like this one emerge, people often get nervous and think that any similar type of mark on their finger, or elsewhere, is cancer. But we previously spoke with an expert about subungual melanoma (melanoma underneath a fingernail or toenail) to give our readers the information they need regarding this type of cancer.
“Subungual melanoma is a rare and often deadly type of melanoma,” Dr. Dendy Engelman, a board certified dermatologic surgeon at Shafer Clinic Fifth Avenue previously told SurvivorNet. “This specific type of melanoma that occurs under the nail has fairly classic clinical findings – with linear, darkly pigmented streaking of the nail and involvement of proximal nail fold or cuticle.”
She recommends that people see a doctor if they find such markings.
“Any pigmented streaking of the fingernail should be evaluated,” she said.
She also says that nail color in and of itself is not can be caused by many things other than melanoma.
“Determining one’s risk factor for melanoma solely on the color of the nail plate is neither helpful nor vetted in science,” she explained. “There are many causative factors that can lead to discoloration in the nail. Melanoma of the nail does not mean nor predict that you will have melanoma else where on the body, either.”
Overall, you should always keep track of any changes to your health, but just know that a change in nail color does not necessarily mean you have cancer. Even still, you should stay on top of self skin checks as well as annual appointments and report any changes to your health or appearance that appear. In the case of subungual melanoma, the disease can be “highly treatable” when discovered early.
Checking Your Skin for Melanoma
The American Cancer Society says the risk of melanoma increases as people age with the average age of diagnosis being 65, but the disease is not uncommon among those younger than 30. In fact, it’s one of the most common cancers in young adults (especially young women). That being said, it’s important for people of all ages to pay attention to their skin since keeping an eye on moles or growths on the skin is an easy way to check yourself for melanoma.
“Melanomas are the deadliest type of skin cancer because they have a tendency to spread to other parts of the body,” explains Dr. Anna Pavlick, a medical oncologist with Weill Cornell Medicine who specializes in treating skin cancer.
Changes to a mole you’ve had for a while or developing a new growth you don’t remembering having on your skin could be a sign of melanoma, according to SurvivorNet’s experts. Dr. Cecilia Larocca of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute gives SurvivorNet an overview of things to look out for with moles using the ABCDE self-screening method:
- Asymmetrical moles: “If you drew a line straight down the center of the mole, would the sides match?”
- Borders that are “irregular, jagged, not smooth.” It can also stand for bleeding.
- Colors: “Multiple distinct colors in the mole.”
- Diameter: “Larger than 6mm, about the size of a pencil head eraser.”
- Evolution: “This may be the most important,” she says. “Anything that is changing over time such as gaining color, losing color, painful, itching, hurting, changing shape, etc.”
Considering subungual melanoma, more specifically, the American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends looking for the following changes:
- A dark streak. This may look like a brown or black band in the nail — often on the thumb or big toe of your dominant hand or foot. However, this dark streak can show up on any nail.
- Dark skin next to your nail. When the skin around your nail becomes darker, it could be a sign of advanced melanoma.
- Nail lifting from your fingers or toes. When this happens, your nail starts to separate from the nail bed. The white free edge at the top of your nail will start to look longer as the nail lifts.
- Nail splitting, which occurs when a nail splits down the middle.
- A bump or nodule under your nails. You might also see a band of color on your nail. It could be wide and irregular or dark and narrow.