California woman shocked to find out the 'pimple' above her lip turned out to be skin cancer
- Tracy French, from Arcadia, California, first discovered a light pink spot above her lip a few years ago
- She thought it was a pimple, but it didn't go away and turned into a red and scaly patch
- After visiting a dermatologist, she was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a skin cancer that occurs in cells in the skin's outermost layer
- French had surgery, which successfully removed all the cancer
A California woman was shocked after what she thought was a pimple above her lip turned out to be skin cancer.
Tracy French, from Arcadia, wasn't worried when she first saw the light pink spot that was smaller than the size of a quarter a few years ago.
She dismissed it as a blemish but, several months later, it still hadn't gone away, reported KABC 7.
French decided to visit her dermatologist, who ordered a biopsy of the spot, which had turned into a red, scaly patch.
She was soon diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer.
It was a scare for French but, after having surgery, she was declared cancer-free.
Tracy French, from Arcadia, California, first discovered a light pink spot above her lip a few years ago. Pictured: French's cancer above her lip
French (left and right) thought it was a pimple, but it didn't go away and turned into a red scaly patch. After the spot turned into a red, scaly patch, French visited a dermatologist, who performed a biopsy
French said that she first became concerned when the 'pimple' started to scab.
'It looked like a pimple, then it would go away, and then it would turn into a little scab and turn scaly,' she told KABC 7. 'I kind of - for a little while - didn't think anything about it.'
But her dermatologist, Dr Shirley Chi, of the Center for Advanced Dermatology, was concerned much earlier.
'It did look like a pimple at first, but then eventually it turned into something a little bit harder,' she told the station. 'It had a little scale on it.'
After a biopsy, French was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), a form of skin cancer which arises from the squamous cells in the skin's outermost layer.
The cancer most often forms on the head, neck, and back of the hands - areas that are frequently exposed to the sun - and appears as a scaly, red patch or as an open sore.
More than one million cases of SCC are diagnosed each year in the US, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
It is the second most common form of skin cancer, causing about 15,000 deaths in the US every year.
Last month, a new study from the American Academy of Dermatology revealed that rates of skin cancer are rising among women between ages 18 and 39.
Researchers found that between 1970 and 2009, the rates of melanoma - the most fatal form of skin cancer - spiked 800 percent.
She was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a skin cancer that occurs in cells in the skin's outermost layer. Pictured: French being examined by her dermatologist
French (left and right) underwent surgery, which successfully removed all the cancer. She said is sharing her story to warn others about taking care of their skin
During the study period, rates of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma also increased by 145 percent and 263 percent, respectively.
'We think it's because people are living longer,' Dr Chi told KABC 7.
'But also because we're probably exposing ourselves to more sun damage in way of pollution, because pollution decreases the atmosphere and so we're getting more radiation that way.'
Dr Chi recommends using a sport sunscreen or a stick sunscreen that is less greasy than traditional sunscreen as well as an SPF lip balm.
French had surgery, which successfully removed all the cancer, and says she wants others to be as vigilant about protecting their skin as she is now.
'Come and see your dermatologist and get your whole body checked. Cause things can pop up, overnight,' she told KABC 7.