LIFESTYLE

Woman's 'Stress Pimple' Turned Out To Be Rare Cancer Attacking Her Chin, Jaw And Cheek

11/01/2016 11:31 GMT | Updated 11/01/2016 11:59 GMT

A woman has explained how a small lump on her chin, which she believed to be a pimple, was actually a very aggressive form of cancer.

After the lump didn't go away, Jodie Dominy, 41, visited her doctor who said it was a "fatty cyst" and that it was not harmful.

She left the lump for two years, but it continued to grow on her face. Soon it was the size of a 20-pence piece and had become increasingly painful.

Dominy, who is from Queensland, Australia, had further tests and was left distraught after being diagnosed with Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans (DFSP), an incredibly rare form of cancer which had taken root in her chin, bottom lip, jaw and left cheek.

After undergoing intense surgery, she has shared her story to encourage others to remain vigilant of changes in their bodies.

Jodie Dominy

Dominy, who has two children, first attributed the lump on her face to the stress of motherhood.

After her doctor diagnosed it as a "fatty cyst", she was left with two options: leave it or have it removed, but for cosmetic reasons.

Dominy had been advised that the "cyst" would not cause her any harm, so she left it.

But after two years, the lump had grown to the size of a small coin and was beginning to cause her pain.

Self-conscious of the growing lump - and not wanting it to become any bigger - Dominy spoke to a plastic surgeon about the possibility of removing it.

But after biopsy results returned, Dominy was faced with terrible news - the "cyst" on her face was actually a rare form of skin cancer called DFSP.

According to the NHS, DFSP begins in the middle layer of skin, the dermis, and tends to grow slowly.

Treatment is crucial for DFSP patients, as otherwise the cancer can grow deep into the fat, muscle and even bone. If this happens, it can make it very difficult to perform surgery.

The key symptom of this type of skin cancer is a small bump on the skin, which may resemble a "deep-seated pimple or rough patch of skin". It can also look like a scar and, in children, may resemble a birthmark.

Most cases of DFSP have been found on the arms, legs or back. According to Dominy, she's the only person in Australia to develop it on her face.

To make matters worse, the cancer does not react to radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

Dominy wrote on Facebook back in March: "If left untreated it would have taken over my whole face eventually."

The mum-of-two underwent facial surgery to remove the cancer. Her surgeon likened the cancer to an octopus with "long tentacles".

According to surgeons, these "tentacles" had spread to her chin, bottom lip, jaw and left cheek.

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During the nine-hour procedure, surgeons cut pieces of Dominy's skin and muscle from her arm. This was then used to rebuild her face.

She was left with 170 stitches and despite feeling "horrid" after the surgery, she was happy to be free of the tumour.

Writing about her experience on Facebook, the mum-of-two explained that the cancer has a "fairly high rate of return", which means for the rest of her life she will have to have regular checkups.

"I have ongoing facial reconstruction surgeries still to come this year to create a jawline and some form of normality to my face, as well as ongoing speech therapy and occupational therapy on my arm to try and gain full access of it," she said.

"I will have ongoing problems with my arm due to the removal of tendons and veins... and can't feel part of my hand at all."

She added: "The next 12 to 18 months will see me continue on my journey but I am strong and know that at the end of this I will be ok."

Jodie Dominy immediately after surgery

Jodie Dominy 10 weeks after surgery

[H/T Daily Mail]