24-year-old Gibson Miller noticed she had a small spot under her left eye and assumed it was only a pimple.
It was only a year ago when she decided to see a doctor who told her the spot was stage 1 basal cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer that looks like a semi-transparent bump on the skin.
Miller said to TODAY: “No one else would notice it. It was very small. It was pearlized. I was going back and looking at old pictures. I had that spot for three years. But I didn’t really think about it until a year ago.”
Miller underwent Mohs surgery, a procedure used to remove basal cell carcinoma and then she had to have stitches.
The schoolteacher said to KTVU-TV that she was “really lost because I didn’t know anything about this, I didn’t know anyone who had this.”
Miller has now been declared cancer-free and wants to inform others about the importance of sun safety. “My new tagline: sunscreen is sexy. Everyone needs to wear it no matter what you do in the sun,” she said.
Gary Goldenberg, MD, assistant clinic professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, said: “Skin cancer can sometimes mimic a pimple or a blemish, since the first sign of skin cancer can be a red bump that doesn’t go away.”
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma can appear like a pimple, Dr. Goldenberg said. Some signs that a ‘pimple’ is something more serious are: it keeps getting bigger, it spontaneously bleeds, and nothing comes out when you squeeze it.
It is always a good idea to get skin spots checked out if they last for over two weeks. But keep in mind that persistent bumps do not always mean there is skin cancer. “A cyst is also a possibility,” said Dr. Goldenberg. Either way, it is always best to see a dermatologist to be sure.
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