A simple visit to a nail salon has led to a US woman contracting nail cancer after she was cut during her manicure.
Grace Garcia visited a new salon in November 2021 when her usual place was booked out, but during the manicure the nail technician nicked the cuticle on her finger, causing it to bleed a little.
“She cut me, and the cut wasn’t just a regular cuticle cut,” she told the publication Today. “She cut me deep, and that was one of the first times that happened to me. I’ve been doing (my nails) for years and years and years. I was upset.”
The mum of three wishes she could remember if the nail technician used new equipment on her.
“I don’t remember that at all,” she said. “That’s always a big spectacle when they take out the tools, and they open the packet, and I don’t remember that – and I should have.”
But little did she know that the pampering she had treated herself to for the past 20 years would lead to a cancer diagnosis.
The cut would not heal initially, despite using antibiotic cream, and Ms Garcia later learned the nail technician had been fired after returning to the salon to complain.
Then a bump that was darker than her skin appeared on her finger and while the doctor thought it was just a callus from writing, he recommended she watch it.
In the following months, the bump turned into an open wound and then a wart developed.
The 50-year-old was sent to a dermatologist where a biopsy was conducted.
It revealed a shock diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma – a common skin cancer – but unusually, Ms Garcia’s cancer was caused by human papillomavirus (HPV).
It’s a common, contagious virus that can cause cancers and diseases in both men and women, but usually spreads mainly by contact during sexual activity.
Ms Garcia underwent surgery to remove the cancer from her finger, which was a success, although she will have to follow up for regular screenings.
Dr Teo Soleymani, a dermatologist at UCLA Health who made the diagnosis, said he had seen this type of cancer commonly occur in younger patients, with half a dozen caused by manicures.
“Interestingly, almost every single skin cancer I’ve dealt with that involved fingers or nails … have been associated with high-risk HPV,” he told Fox 11.
“That is alarming – and it’s in younger patients.”
He recommended people get the HPV vaccine, which was created by an Australian scientist.
While Ms Garcia feels traumatised by her experience, she is urging people to be persistent if they feel something is wrong with their health.
“I fought all the way from day one because I knew something was wrong,” she said.
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