Home > Case Studies > Doctors Thought My Wart Could Be Skin Cancer: Case Study

Doctors Thought My Wart Could Be Skin Cancer: Case Study

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 8 Mar 2017 | comments*Discuss
Seborrheic Keratoses Wart Gp Pregnancy

When Laurel Lewis got pregnant, she began developing several small growths on her back. Concerned about what they could be, she made an appointment to see her GP.

The GP quickly reassured Lauren, who didn't want her real name used, telling her the growths were nothing dangerous. In fact, they were actually completely benign, although they looked unsightly – to Lauren at least.

“She said they were seborrheic keratoses, which are also known as middle-aged warts, which isn’t a very nice name!” said Lauren, now 47, who is a university lecturer based in London.

“They’re described as barnacle-like lesions, and that’s what they are – they look completely stuck on the skin. I only had a few and didn’t really like them, but as the GP said they were nothing to worry about, I stopped worrying.”

Second Pregnancy Worse

When Lauren got pregnant for the second time a few years later, she developed even more of the keratoses. “I had been to the hospital and had two large ones shaved off, as they were itchy and bothering me, and thought that was the end of it.

“Then, very quickly in fact, I developed more. I went back to my GP who said they usually caused by genetic factors, but are often exacerbated with hormones, which means that my pregnancies could be setting them off.

“I wasn’t very thrilled about the idea of having them and nobody else I knew had any – except for my dad. Still, I had two healthy babies so I thought a few barnacles wasn’t a bad price to pay.”

Third Time Unlucky

But when Lauren got pregnant for the third and last time, her skin went haywire. “I suddenly developed a lot more, this time not only on my trunk but also on my neck. That made me feel very self-conscious.

“I also had quite a few seborrheic keratoses underneath my breasts, where my bra fastened. They began to itch and hurt a bit when I wore my bra, so I made an appointment with the GP to get a referral to have them removed.

“I expected everything to be completely straightforward, just like the first time, but I was wrong.”

Mimic Melanomas

Because of their appearance, seborrheic keratoses can mimic the appearance of melanomas, or dangerous skin cancers.

A melanoma may turn black, change colour completely or bleed, which is a sign it’s potentially dangerous. But a seborrheic keratosis, when irritated by something like a bra strap, can do the same thing.

“When I went to the hospital the doctor said they weren’t sure what they were removing, and so she wanted to do a biopsy on a big ‘wart’ on my back that had been constantly rubbed by my bra and looked sore and darker than the others,” Lauren recalls.

“The word ‘biopsy’ suddenly set off alarm bells, and when she was done I phoned my husband in a panic.

“He told me not to worry, but the next few weeks were agony. A friend of mine had had skin cancer, so by that time I was convinced I did too.”

Keeping an Eye on Things

Lauren was on tenterhooks waiting for word from the hospital about the biopsy. “By the time the letter came saying everything was all right, I just broke down,” she says.

“I had tried to put it out of my mind, but the worry was always there, and I had kept looking at my three girls wondering how they could ever cope without their mum.”

Lauren was told to keep an eye on the keratoses in case they really were something else, and to report back to her GP in case anything looked dodgy. And if any were especially itchy or uncomfortable, she could make an appointment to have them removed, although the NHS wouldn’t remove one for purely cosmetic reasons alone.

“I now have even more, and although I hate having them it’s a lot better than actually having skin cancer,” Lauren says. “I just hope my daughters don’t get them as well, as genetics can play a big role in who has them and who doesn’t.”

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
I am 67, my breasts, although I weigh 10st at 5 ft 7 " have developed warts under the crease where my skin joins my chest. My GP is not prepared to treat these warts. I have anti fungal cream to use twice a day, as she says I have this, but ...the warts are causing the irritation..I have not warn a bra for months, and I really need to see a dermatologist , but my GP will not refer me...what do I do next please..anyone, your advice...I am desperate
Me - 8-Mar-17 @ 7:02 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • AmYBN
    Re: About Molluscum Contagiosum
    @woopwoop034 - it sounds like it could be chicken pox. Your mum would have to take you to the docs to find out. I'm sure your mum…
    21 June 2018
  • woopwoop034
    Re: About Molluscum Contagiosum
    My younger sister just got rid of her chicken pox and she is 3 years old. I am however 12 and my mum isn't sure if I've had chicken…
    20 June 2018
  • Andy
    Re: Do Washing Detergents Affect Eczema?
    We use Caring Panda's Washing Powder only. Now they seem to sell them only in larger packages of 5kg. They used to…
    17 June 2018
  • gli
    Re: Dealing With Hard Skin
    I have hard skin on my body and is very very dry.I have tried everything including the moisturizers tissue oil bit no change. I am out of…
    20 May 2018
  • Bea
    Re: Recognising and Treating Boils
    I recently had a boil on my inner thigh near my groin. It was obviously occurred due to an ingrown hair. The only thing that…
    17 May 2018
  • Savvy
    Re: Avoiding Chicken Pox Scars
    If no muslin for oat bath, use an old pair of tights or even socks. Run in bath water and bathe.
    16 May 2018
  • Jnr
    Re: Avoiding Chicken Pox Scars
    NEVER LET WATER TOUCH CHICKEN POX!! No baths, no showers, no water at all! I don’t know why the western world doesn’t know the basics…
    11 May 2018
  • Sannyb
    Re: Avoiding Chicken Pox Scars
    Out oats into a sock and then rubbed over skin ??
    9 May 2018
  • Alista
    Re: Avoiding Chicken Pox Scars
    Hi...I have chickenpox now and it itches a lot. I've applied calamine lotion but the itches still persist. I don't have a muslin bag…
    27 April 2018
  • Victor Moodley
    Re: All About Lichen Planus
    I am 73 and diabetic.I was diagonized with lichen planus. It appeared on on forearms, neck and lower back. I have been given antibiotics…
    10 April 2018
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the SkinHelp website. Please read our Disclaimer.