Californian woman Traci French thought she just had a stubborn pimple, however the unsuspecting spot turned out to be something more alarming.
The spot first appeared five years ago, but it kept returning every so often.
“It was very scaly, it kind of looked like dry skin,” French told NBC’s Today Show.
“It would get red a little bit and then it would look like a pimple would start. Then it would go away and the dryness would reoccur.”
The 50-year-old was concerned, so she decided to consult her dermatologist Dr Shirley Chi during an annual skin exam.
“Usually, I know right away that this is a skin cancer. But in this case, it really just looked like a pimple,” Dr Chi said. “It looked like a skin-coloured bump.”
French was told to wait a couple of months to see if it would go away. A couple of months later, when the spot didn’t go away, Dr Chi shaved off a sample.
The spot turned out to be a squamous cell carcinoma, which is a common type of non-melanoma skin cancer.
Squamous cell carcinoma is reportedly common, especially on parts of the body that see a lot of sun.
French, who was actively playing sport in her youth, like soccer and softball, said she used sunscreen, but not always on her face.
According to Cancer Council Australia, squamous cell carcinoma accounts for about 30 per cent of all non-melanoma skin cancers.
Symptoms include thickened red, scaly spot, rapidly growing lump, looks like a sore that has not healed and the spot may be tender to touch.
The advice for preventing non-melanoma skin cancers is minimising sun exposure, wearing SPF30+ sunscreen, wearing hats, sun protective clothing and close fitting sunglasses.
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