Community Thoughts: Who Discovered Your Skin Cancer?
Last updated: April 2023
Our community on Facebook gave us a huge response when we asked who discovered their skin cancer. Now, we’re sharing the results. Didn’t get a chance to share on Facebook? Tell us who noticed your skin cancer in the comments below!
Fighting for a biopsy
“I did. No one believed me, not even my doctor. I insisted I had it removed and it came back positive as SCC.”
About half of the members who commented said that they discovered their own skin cancer. Sometimes, that means fighting for others to listen. Three people had to insist on a biopsy; one even threatened to sue!
We heard the story of a woman whose “mole selfies” of an ugly duckling mole - a term used for moles that may be suspicious because they’re different from others around them - proved three years later to be melanoma. Luckily, it was Stage I.
“I felt a lump in my left breast but it wasn't breast cancer after all but melanoma instead, a day I will never forget!”
One member believed they might have breast cancer, but discovered melanoma instead. Another noticed an itchy mole, and was encouraged by two colleagues to get it checked out. Her primary care physician and dermatologist both suspected melanoma, and they were right.
In our In America survey, over two thirds of basal and squamous cell carcinomas and over half of melanomas were noticed by the respondents themselves.
Alerted by loved ones
“My mother-in-law found my melanoma in 2002. I learned I was pregnant and had skin cancer in the same week.”
Sometimes, loved ones - often partners - could see suspicious moles that our members didn’t notice. One woman’s husband found a mole behind her ear that turned out to be cancerous. Another member’s mother-in-law discovered her melanoma. In the same week, she also found out she was pregnant.
For one commenter, her discovery was too late. Her husband had known about a “changing, bleeding mole on his scalp, in his hair above his ear, and chose to ignore it.” He ended up passing away.
Caught in the nick of time
“[My dermatologist] is my favorite person!”
Our In America survey showed that 25-30% of respondents had a healthcare professional first notice their skin cancer.
On Facebook, similarly, more than ¼ of our commenting members said their doctors discovered their skin cancer. This led to some very enthusiastic shoutouts. Many felt that their doctor had saved their life.
Often a physician’s discoveries were haphazard, found during a checkup for something else. One doctor was removing a skin tag when she found Stage 2 melanoma on her patient’s cheek. A family doctor found Stage 3A melanoma on his patient’s back while doing a breast exam.
Another commenter told us how, at the end of an appointment, their derm decided to take a last minute look at a mole noted two years earlier by a previous derm. She saw it had doubled in size! After an immediate biopsy and an excision a week later, it was found to be melanoma.
Thanks to all the community members who told their stories! If you have something to add, share below in the comments or submit your own story here.
Do you sunscreen in the fall?