A TikTok Star Avoided a Skin Cancer Scare After Followers Noticed His Irregular Mole
"I would have gone years without going to the dermatologist and then we really don't know what would have happened."
Alex Griswold has TikTok to thank for saving his life.
The social media star — who has amassed nearly 500K followers on the social media platform, where he shares glimpses of his married life in San Francisco—recently learned that a mole he had on his back was potentially cancerous, after two of his followers spotted the growth in one of his videos.
"I am so thankful they reached out," Griswold told ABC's Good Morning America. "I would have gone years without going to the dermatologist and then we really don't know what would have happened." (And, here's the thing: Skin cancer screenings are as simple as going into your derm's office for a quick body check.)
Griswold first told the story in a video on his TikTok account in December. He explained that his dermatologist removed the mole to have it tested and found it was moderately atypical, which means it could become cancerous. (Related: How One Trip to the Dermatologist Saved My Skin)
"The doctor was like, 'Whoever told you, probably saved your life,'" said Griswold. "So because of two kind strangers, I avoided skin cancer and this is a perfect example that the world is a wonderful place."
One of the people who had reached out to Griswold was Lizzie Wells, a woman from Macon, Georgia. She was watching a video of Griswold having a pimple popped on his back when she saw the mole. Wells is a melanoma survivor and is studying to become a doctor. "I immediately paused the video and was like, 'I need to get a hold of this person,'" she recalled to GMA. "And so I commented on the video."
"Going through the trauma myself, you just don't want other people to go through that," she added.
Though Wells was the second person to reach out, the fact that she "was actually a skin student" pushed Griswold to go to get checked, he told GMA. (Related: How Docs Protect Themselves from Skin Cancer)
"I realized, 'Okay. She might also know what she's talking about,'" he said. "And so that's when I actually decided to make an appointment to go to the dermatologist."
Every hour, more than two people die of skin cancer in the U.S. with more than 9,500 people in the U.S. diagnosed with skin cancer every day, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation. In all, 1 in 5 Americans will develop the disease by the age of 70. (And it's not just melanoma you should worry about. Non-melanoma skin cancer rates are on the rise, too.)
The Foundation urges people to look out for the "ABCDEs of Melanoma". (See: What Does Skin Cancer Look Like?)
Asymmetry, because suspicious moles aren't a perfect circle.
Border irregularity, as they tend to be uneven.
Color, because the mole is often darker than others you have.
Diameter, as the mole will be bigger than the size of a pencil eraser.
Evolution or change, with the mole changing in shape, color, or texture.
This story originally appeared on People.com by Dave Quinn.