A woman was shocked to discover a tiny “pimple” above her lip wasn’t actually the blemish she thought it was.
Tracy French, from Arcadia in Canada, never thought anything of the light pink mark, thinking it would go away, but after a few years it still remained on her lip.
She decided to visit her doctor when the spot began to turn into a red, scaly patch — who told Ms French her zit was actually cancer.
“It looked like a pimple, then it would go away, and then it would turn into a little scab and turn scaly,” Ms French told KABC 7.
“It looked like the size of a quarter, it got a little white. For a little while I didn’t think anything about it.”
Ms French’s dermatologist, Dr Shirley Chi, said it looked like a pimple at first, but eventually it turned into something a little bit harder.
“It had a little scale on it,” Dr Chi said, revealing it was a telltale sign of skin cancer.
As a result, Dr Chi ordered a biopsy, and Ms French was soon diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma — a cancer that most often forms on the head, neck, and back of the hands.
According to the Cancer Council, squamous cell carcinoma accounts for about 30 per cent of non-melanoma skin cancers in Australia and appears in areas mainly exposed to the sun.
It usually begins in the upper layer of the skin and appears as a scaly, red patch or as an open sore.
Ms French had surgery to remove the affected area above her lip and has since been declared cancer-free.
But she wanted to warn others to be more vigilant about protecting their skin following her scare.
“See your dermatologist and get your whole body checked. Because things can pop up overnight,” Ms French said.
In Australia, skin cancer (melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers) accounts for the largest number of cancers diagnosed in Australia each year, according to the Australia Institute of Health and Welfare.
About two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70. Non-melanoma skin cancer is more common in men, with almost double the incidences compared with women.
According to the Cancer Council, excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australians.
In 2015, 13,694 Australians were diagnosed with melanoma.
Earlier this month, Gibson Miller noticed a light pink spot under her left eye but she also dismissed it as a blemish.
The 24-year-old from New York later visited dermatologist, who ordered a biopsy, and within a week she was diagnosed with a form of skin cancer known as basal cell carcinoma (BCC).
Doctors told Ms Miller she would need two operations — one to remove the cancer and another to reconstruct the tissue around her eye.
Ms Miller explained that she spent a lot of her childhood outdoors as she began playing tennis when she was nine.
She admits she used sun cream, but not regularly, and rarely wore a hat or sunglasses.
Last month, she underwent Mohs surgery — a procedure where layers of cancerous skin are removed until there is only uninfected tissue.
The next day Ms Miller had reconstructive surgery, and her scar is now starting to heal.
Another woman from Florida was also shocked to discover that a “pimple” on her leg turned out to be a lipoma — and after 10 years it kept growing larger.
She eventually had the lipoma removed. It is a benign, fatty lump that grows under the skin.
They’re harmless and can usually be left alone if they’re small and painless.
They are non-cancerous and are caused by an overgrowth of fat cells.
The Cancer Council advises to check your skin regularly and check with your doctor if you notice any changes.
“Your doctor may perform a biopsy (remove a small sample of tissue for examination under a microscope) or refer you to a specialist if he/she suspects a skin cancer,” it states on the Cancer Council site.
“Skin cancers are almost always removed. In more advanced skin cancers, some of the surrounding tissue may also be removed to make sure that all of the cancerous cells have been taken out.”
Skin cancer can be treated by surgery, ointments or radiotherapy. Skin cancer can also be removed with cryotherapy (using liquid nitrogen to rapidly freeze the cancer off), curettage (scraping) or cautery (burning).
For more information about skin cancer contact the Cancer Council 13 11 20 or talk to your GP.