When a pimple on your face is really a rare cancer

When a pimple on your face is really a rare cancer

When an Aussie mum's 'stress pimple' didn't go away, doctors suspected it was more than just a zit...

We all get pimples occasionally, whether they pop up at that time of the month, or due to stress. But in one mum's case, a simple pimple (at least she thought it was) turned out to be so much more that.

Aussie mum Jodie Dominy discovered that her “stress pimple” was actually a rare form of skin cancer called Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans (DFSP), according to Women's Health.

The 41-year-old mother of two was originally told a bump on her chin was a fatty cyst. “The doctor explained I could have it removed for cosmetic reasons, but there was no harm in leaving it alone. I decided not to bother,” said Jodie.

However, the bump grew, so Jodie asked a plastic surgeon to get rid of it during surgery she had to remove a benign skin cancer on her lip. But doctors discovered the bump was actually a rare form of cancer, after analysis.

In a Facebook post, Jodie writes, “Most cases of DFSP have been found on the arms, legs, or back.  In Australia, there are only eight reported cases of DFSP, and I am the only one ever to have it on my face.”

Reportedly, Jodie's doctor compared the cancer to an octopus. It had extended tentacles that wrapped around the bump, forming deep 'roots', which made it very hard to remove.

Jodie had to undergo extensive surgery to remove the cancer from her left cheek, jaw, bottom lip and chin. She also had facial reconstructive surgery, for which doctors used pieces of muscle and skin from her arm to 'rebuild' her face:

Thankfully, Jodie is now okay.

No need to panic

If you are frantically examining that pimple on your face right now and worrying that it might be cancer, stop right now.

Women's Health quotes dermatologist Marie Leger -- an assistant professor of dermatology at NYU -- as saying, “It [DFSP] is not common—only about 0.8 to five people are diagnosed with it per million people a year in the U.S.”

But at the same time, Leger also points out that it’s not uncommon for someone to mistake a cancerous bump for a pimple: “I have seen this before in my practice, more commonly with basal cell carcinomas, in which a person will dismiss a bump on their face, chest, or back because they think that it is a pimple,” she says.

How do you know a pimple is a pimple and not cancer?

According to dermatologist Jill Waibel, pimples always go away.

You should be worried if "you have new or old bumps that aren’t healing, are bleeding, change in size, color, or shape, or become painful or itchy."

Skin experts also advise that you get annual skin checks with a dermatologist.

“Many people mistake things like flesh-colored moles and pimples as cosmetic inconveniences,” says Bank. “However, they should be checked out by a dermatologist to ensure that they are not cause for serious concern like cancer.”

In Singapore, skin cancer is on the rise, with it being the 6th most common cancer among males, and 7th in female cancers.

If you have any questions about skin cancer, do call the National Cancer Centre Singapore's cancer helpline at (65) 6225 5655 or email to [email protected]

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