If you've been putting off an appointment to get a suspicious-looking spot or mole checked out, a new case report may be the extra push you need to call your doctor. 

The new case study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, details the case of a 52-year-old man who presented to an outpatient clinic with a bleeding mass on his right big toe. 

Two months earlier, according to the case report, the man apparently noticed a small, pink nodule on the toe—about five millimeters in diameter at the time. One month after that, however, the man's toe was stepped on. At that point, the nodule grew quickly, and it began bleeding intermittently. When the patient finally sought medical care, another month later, the spot was red and ulcerated, according to the case report. Additionally, there were dark patches of skin around the lesion.

bleeding-toe-embed-1 NEJM

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Doctors advised that the lesion be surgically removed. During the removal operation, they discovered “brown-black” patches under the lesion. Both the lesion and the patches under it had “nests of melanoma cells” in them, the report says.

Melanoma is a type of cancer that starts in melanocytes, or pigment-producing cells in the skin. While melanoma tumors can be found anywhere on the body, they most often appear on men’s backs and women’s legs.

The patient in the case study, specifically, was eventually diagnosed with acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM), a type of melanoma that shows up on the soles of one’s feet, palms of one’s hands, and nail beds, Health previously reported. ALM is most prevalent in people of Asian decent and those with darker skin. But it can affect people of all skin types.

The patient featured in the new report was treated with an antiviral drug after the surgery was complete. Fortunately, 18 months after the treatment was given, “there was no evidence of recurrence or metastasis,” the case report says. Moral of this story? Get those new spots on your skin looked at sooner rather than later.

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