Woman develops cancer after last-minute manicure: 'Very aggressive'

A casual visit to the nail salon resulted in near-fatal consequences for one woman.

In November 2021, an American woman named Grace Garcia decided last-minute to treat herself to a manicure ahead of her Thanksgiving celebrations.

With her usual nail salon fully booked, she dashed to another that had recently opened to receive her beauty treatment. During an interview with local media this week, Ms Garcia described how the nail technician was "very aggressive" with the cuticle on her right ring finger.

Grace Garcia and the manicure she received.
Grace Garcia developed cancer after a last-minute manicure, her doctor says. Source: Fox 11 Los Angeles

"I did notice at the end that cuticle was raw and it hurt a lot," she told Fox 11 Los Angeles. The wound then turned into a wart-like bump, which "erupted" three months later, prompting her to visit her doctor for a biopsy.

"I was on my way to the car from seeing him. They called me — so that scared me — and he said we're going to have to have you come back," Ms Garcia said, recalling the unfathomable moment she learnt she had developed cancer beneath her nail. Her doctor believes it was triggered by the manicure.

"I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe something so simple as a manicure could have killed me," she said.

Doctor warns of increase in 'phenomenon'

Doctors informed Ms Garcia she had developed squamous cell carcinoma — a cancer that occurs in the outer layer of the skin — caused by high-risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

"In her case, she had a manicure done where she had an injury, and presumably so there were some contaminated tools or some sort of the entry of this virus. And the virus triggers this cancer to develop," UCLA Health specialist Dr Teo Soleymani told Fox 11 Los Angeles.

Ms Garcia and the cancerous wart.
Ms Garcia developed squamous cell carcinoma — a cancer that occurs in the outer layer of the skin. Source: Fox 11 Los Angeles

"It can be and is a sexually transmitted, but much like any other viruses that need contact, anywhere where it can get into and under the skin is where it replicates."

Dr Soleymani said he has seen an increase in such cancer cases across the US. "Rarely do we see high-risk squamous cell carcinomas arising from this but I have had about a half a dozen patients with this phenomenon," he warned.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation and American Academy of Dermatology, up to 85 per cent of squamous cell carcinomas of the fingers or nails are due to high-risk HPV, the publication reports. Ms Garcia's finger has since healed, with Dr Soleymani describing hers as a "good outcome".

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