Even if you’re diligent about wearing sunscreen and keeping an eye out for any abnormal-looking moles, some signs of skin cancer may not be making it onto your radar — like a spot on your scalp, line under your fingernail, or even a pimple that turns out to be cancerous. That’s why regular skin checks are so important — exactly what one California woman found out when what looked like a nasty blackhead turned out to be a serious form of skin cancer.
Kari Cummins, 35, took a proactive trip to the dermatologist for a routine skin check, when she noticed a few innocuous looking bumps and scabs on her face, reports Metro UK. But that wasn’t the worrisome part. A spot Cummins had chalked up to adult acne — described as what looked like an underground blackhead — turned out to be squamous cell carcinoma. If she’d waited any longer for that skin check, the deadly type of skin cancer could have spread deeper into the tissue and potentially to her organs.
After having the cancerous spot removed, Cummins was left with a hole in her chin the size of a quarter, which took 35 stitches to close. “At first I felt very self-conscious, but now I find it empowering as I can use my experiences to share my story in the hope of urging others that it is so important to look after your skin,” Cummins said.
Her story serves as a reminder that regular skin checks are so important — especially if you have a history of skipping sunscreen or hitting up the tanning bed (which, dear god, please don’t — we do not condone any sort of tanning, for the matter). “I wasn’t a frequent user, and only used [tanning beds] occasionally,” Cummins said. “But I’ve learnt that it doesn’t take much for the UV rays to accelerate the growth of the carcinoma, especially if you have fair skin. It just shows that this can happen to anyone, unfortunately I neglected my skin and now I am facing the consequences.”
The American Cancer Society recommends doing thorough skin checks once a month. If you believe you’re at risk for skin cancer or spot something out of the ordinary, don’t wait: Make an appointment with a medical professional to get thoroughly checked out sooner rather than later.
For more on skin cancer awareness:
- A Hair Appointment Helped One Woman Spot a Melanoma on Her Scalp
- This Woman’s Manicurist Spotted a Sign of Deadly Skin Cancer Under Her Nail
- This Woman Created a Melanoma Photo Diary to Spread Skin Cancer Awareness
Now, find out when you should get a mole checked: