Woman Had ‘Mark’ on Her Nail for 10 Years Before Learning It Was Rare Cancer

Featured image via Shutterstock and does not show Maria Sylvia.

Maria Sylvia was just a high schooler when a tan streak first appeared on her nail. She played a lot of sports, so when she first noticed this strange mark she chalked it up to it being a blood blister or a bruise.

Then, according to a feature in Today, when Sylvia visited a podiatrist for an ingrown toenail, the doctor recommended that Sylvia visit a dermatologist to have it examined. When the dermatologist told Sylvia that the streak was most likely just a harmless mole, Sylvia moved on with her life and quickly forgot about it. 

Years later, a former co-worker reached out to Sylvia and encouraged her to see a dermatologist for possible subungual melanoma.

 “She saw a picture that looked like my thumb and so she sent it to me: ‘You need to get this looked at.’”, Sylvia said. Despite being afraid that going to a dermatologist could potentially confirm the scary diagnosis, Sylvia made an appointment. 

The dermatologist wasn’t sure about conducting a biopsy, still convinced the mark was completely harmless. Thankfully, Sylvia insisted. 

“He wasn’t even concerned. He was like, ‘Oh I don’t think it’ll be that,’” Sylvia said. “I’m like ‘OK, well I still want to get this biopsy done.’”

The doctor then conducted a “punch biopsy,” during which he took a small patch of skin from the nail bed. A week later, Sylvia got a call from him.

 “Hey, we got your biopsy results back,” she remembers him telling her. “We found melanoma.”

“I owe it to my co-worker for creating a voice in the back of my head to get it looked at,” Sylvia said.

What are the Symptoms of Subungual Melanoma? 

When you hear the word “melanoma,” the first image that comes to mind is probably irregularly shaped or irregularly colored moles caused by sun damage.  However, since subungual melanoma affects the nail matrix, the signs and symptoms do not look like those of other types of skin cancer. 

Symptoms of this condition include: 

  • A light to dark-brown colored band on the nail that’s usually vertical
  • A dark band on the nail that slowly expands and covers more of the nail
  • Dark nail pigmentation that expands to the surrounding skin
  • Nail brittleness and cracking
  • Bleeding at the site of pigmentation

For more information on symptoms, treatment, prevention, or complications regarding subungual melanoma, please visit NCBI

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