An off the cuff visit to a dermatologist turned fortuitous for Kari Cummins, 35, who just wanted to check in after having used tanning beds in her 20s and early 30s. Though she made the appointment just to make sure her skin was healthy, the dermatologist actually found that Cummins had a common form of skin cancer. The only symptom? A spot on her chin that Cummins had dismissed as a blackhead.
"I have always had clear skin so I did think that the spot was slightly unusual," Cummins told Metro. "I assumed it was a blackhead or a weird type of adult acne, as I hadn’t seen anything like that before."
The cancerous spot felt like a lump on her chin, Cummins said, or like an "underground blackhead." But after several medical tests, doctors determined that the lump was actually squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer after basal cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma tends to form on skin that has frequently been exposed to sun (or tanning beds), and is often seen on parts of the body that are usually uncovered like the head, neck, and back of the hands, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
After the growth was removed, Cummins was left with a hole in her chin that needed 35 stitches to be closed up, according to Metro. "If I hadn’t of had it removed when I did then the chances are it would have grown larger and deeper into the tissue and could have spread," Cummins said.
Since having the lump on her chin removed as well as a few small, non-cancerous spots on her forehead, Cummins has noticed more raised spots on her forehead that will also have to be removed. Since she caught them early, though, they won't leave the same type of damage as the lump on her chin.
After healing from her surgery, she now has a noticeable scar on her face and is warning others not to dismiss something that seems off.
"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," she told Metro.
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