What started off as a simple manicure ended up as skin cancer

It started with a simple manicure just before Thanksgiving, and almost ended with a finger being amputated.

 Person receiving a manicure (illustrative) (photo credit: PEXELS)
Person receiving a manicure (illustrative)
(photo credit: PEXELS)

Grace Garcia never imagined that a regular manicure would lead to her cancer diagnosis.

Garcia, 50, recently shared her story on FOX 11 Los Angeles and said that a manicure she got in November 2021 turned into a nightmare.

According to Garcia, she tried to make an appointment with her regular manicurist right before Thanksgiving, but she wasn't available. She then decided to visit another place near her workplace. The San Gabriel, Calif., resident said that the woman was aggressive while filing the nail on her right ring finger. Garcia said that afterward, her finger didn't look good, and it really hurt. She recalled that a blister formed on her finger which wouldn't heal.

Garcia thinks that the nail technician probably used the same set of tools on another customer before her, she told Today.com in another interview. She added that she wasn't sure if the bump was a wart or not.  

At home, she put antibiotic ointment on the wound. But when the situation worsened, she returned to the beauty salon to inform management of the employee's mistake. To her surprise, they told Garcia that the nail technician had already been fired due to several complaints from other customers. But it doesn't end there. 

 Person receiving a manicure (illustrative) (credit: PEXELS) Person receiving a manicure (illustrative) (credit: PEXELS)

Concerned that her finger hadn't healed after three months, she went to a general practitioner who referred her to a dermatologist for a biopsy. Almost immediately after her visit to the dermatologist, Garcia received an ominous call. She was returning to her car when he called and said she must return to the doctor's office.

The cancer diagnosis

Garcia was referred to a specialist at UCLA who said that Garcia had squamous cell carcinoma, which in this case was caused by HPV. Apparently, this manicurist had nicked a previous client who had HPV, which was then transferred when Garcia was cut. 

Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in the squamous cells in the middle and outer layers of the skin. Although not life-threatening, the condition can be aggressive, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Garcia was diagnosed with stage 1 cancer. Dr. Teo Soleymani said she was lucky she sought early medical attention. Soleymani stated that Garcia's persistence led her to a great result and relatively simple treatment with Mohs surgery, and she saved herself from having her finger amputated. 

Soleymani said he has seen only a handful of cases of cancer caused by manicures. He said that doctors rarely see high-risk squamous cell carcinoma from manicures yet he's treated six patients with it so far.

Garcia underwent a surgical procedure that allowed her doctors to remove the cancer without removing too much skin. Garcia said that she fought from day one when she realized something was wrong. Although her finger is now normal, she admitted that she's still traumatized by the whole ordeal.