Texas Woman Diagnosed with Skin Cancer After Mistaking Birthmark

A Texas woman has discovered that what she thought was a birthmark on her skin was actually skin cancer. Ilia J. Smith, aged 42, was diagnosed with stage 2B melanoma in 2020 after scratching her mole, causing it to bleed.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association warns that a mole that itches or bleeds may be an indication of melanoma, as reported by PEOPLE.

Smith recalled a conversation she had with a friend who specialized in dermatology, Tracee Blackburn, in 2009. Blackburn had suggested that Smith get her mole checked out, but she dismissed it as a birthmark. After the mole began to bleed, Smith sent a picture to Blackburn, who urged her to get a biopsy as soon as possible.

Fortunately, the cancer had not yet spread to Smith's lymph nodes, so she only needed to have the cancerous mole surgically removed. Smith underwent regular skin cancer screenings every three months for the following two years and now only goes for check-ups every six months.

Smith revealed that she used to tan frequently in her youth, and instead of sunscreen, she used tanning lotion with a low SPF. However, she has had to make significant lifestyle changes since her diagnosis, such as avoiding tanning beds and direct sun exposure altogether.

Smith wants to raise awareness that all ethnicities should monitor their skin regularly, especially if they have freckles or moles. She suggests that everyone, regardless of skin color, should get checked by a board-certified dermatologist at least once a year.

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