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EagleRunner 08-21-2009 09:15 PM

Brown stripe in finger, please help.
Hello, if someone can answer this question I'd be greatly pleased.

My wife has a brown stripe on her nail that has been there even before I met her 4 years ago. I would say it has been there 5 or 6 years. She got it checked out in Peru. The Doctor said if it was cancer she'd already be dead. As mean as it sounds it calmed me down. Then I found out recently it could be melanoma.

So I went online to do some research about it, but I am left in the dark on a few things.

I have seen most of the people with melanoma in their nails have a very brown bottom area of the nail, she doesn't you just see the nail fade away under her light skin. She is hispanic, I heard it is more common to have random brown stripes in darker colored people.

It starts on the corner of her pinky nail, not the thumb, and not in the middle of the nail.

Also some seem to have bruises around the area or big large lumps, she does not have either of those. She does have a little black hole on the finger, but it has gotten smaller over the years she said not bigger. The finger is painfree as well.

We have no health insurance and plan to go to Peru soon to visit family over there, not sure if it would be the best idea though. They will perform a biopsy and see what is going on. I assume it would be accurate with the biopsy. But I want to get this done ASAP and make sure it is nothing serious.

Also can anyone tell me what the survival rate is after the stripe appears? Any info would be great.

thank you :(

Chele60 08-25-2009 08:37 AM

Re: Brown stripe in finger, please help.
Melanoma on the nailbed is not at all common. There can be a host of other things that can cause discolorations of the nails - especially, as you have stated, in people of color. If melanoma strikes the nailbed, it is very difficult to treat and can be very aggressive. I think that is where the previous doctor's comments came from.

It's a good idea to have this re-checked, and to keep an eye on it for any changes. However, I doubt doctors will do a biopsy unless they really feel there is a threat of malignant melanoma. Typically, for nailbed melanoma, a biopsy involves partial amputation. Unlike a mole biopsy that might leave a bit of a scar, doctors will try to avoid this unless certain. Of course, this is also a reason why the patient must be diligent in keeping track of any changes.

From what you say here, I doubt your wife has anything to be concerned about. But, as I stated above, I would continue to have it checked periodically by a doctor, and to have her keep an eye on it for any changes that might occur.

EagleRunner 08-26-2009 03:49 PM

Re: Brown stripe in finger, please help.
Thanks for the reply.

What kind of causes could this be in a hispanic person or person of color? it has grown in the past years, but I know other conditions can grow too.

Some information that I have found that seems to have its good sides and bad.

In her nail fold it is black as well on the part of the nail which I heard is Hutchinsons sign, Can there be other causes of that? Benign or anything else?

also I heard that for the main part of Malignant melanoma as mentioned before is on the big toe thumb nail or index finger and has blurred lines where the black/brown goes into the white. Hers is a perfect straight line with not much blur to it.

She also has no history of melanoma or any cancer and none of her family has any forms of cancer at all.

Last but not least, I heard most people with melanoma are 50 and older, she is 25.

So there are some things that worry me, even though most point to something else, but
my biggest question is the nail fold, what could cause this? or any black strip at all in the nail? We have an appointment with a dermatologist September 10th, which seems like forever at this moment. But time is passing by.

God Bless.

Chele60 08-27-2009 10:29 AM

Re: Brown stripe in finger, please help.
From your descriptions, it sounds as if your wife has what is called Melanonychia striata, which might not be all that devastating for a person of African or Native American ancestry. For a person who is Caucasion, it would mean melanoma.

What are some of the causes for this? Well, they could be: trauma, inflammatory disorders, fungal infections, drugs, and benign melanocytic hyperplasias (eg, nevi, lentigo).

I'm not saying to not be concerned. Far from it! Definitely have this checked out, as subungal melanoma is also a possibility. And don't ever think that melanoma is an "old person's" cancer - please. The #1 cancer of young women in their 20s right now is melanoma. I've known more people who have died of melanoma who were in their 20s and 30s than who were in their 50s or 60s. Something to keep in mind: Bob Marley had melanoma under his right toenail which he left untreated, and he died at 36 years of age.

I know September 10th seems like an eternity from now, but it's two weeks and you've stated your wife has had this on her nail for at least 4 years. Just concentrate on that. The 2 weeks will go by quickly enough. I will be sending good thoughts your way for positive news!

Keep us posted on what happens!

kamfavauntie 08-28-2009 10:54 PM

Re: Brown stripe in finger, please help.
I had a black linear stripe that started to develop on my right pinky nails over 10 years ago. Initially, I didn't pay too much attention to it because dark colored nails kinda run in my family, but it was mainly on our toes. However, as the years went on, the linear stripe slowly began to span fully across my nail. It didn't cause me any pain, I never even remembered banging my nail on anything. It just started growing all of a sudden.

Consequently, my primary care physician also began noticing the black linear stripe and suggested that I get it biopsy'd...she told me that this was not a typical location for moles or black linear marks to appear, so she said that she just wanted to make sure that it was not cancerous. The biopsy consisted of the dermatologist basically numbing my pinky finger and cutting about 1/3 my nail off where all the black appeared. The recovery was pretty painful after the novacaine wore off, but I was relieved to know that when the results came back, they were negative.

Thankfully, my nail grew back normally in shape, but it didn't take long for the black linear mark to return as well. Again, as the years went by, the linear color slowly began to span acorss the surface of may nail again. About 4-5 years later, my primary care physician told me it was time to get another biopsy because it was growing again, this time covering about 50% of the nail. Same procedure with the same type of doctor, dermotologist. But this time, this dermatologist told me that she was going to biopsy not only the nail, but into my cuticle where it appeared the black color was coming from. The biopsy was again cancer detected. Unfortunately, because of this type of invasion on my cudible, the dermatologist told me that my nail was probably going to grow back deformed.....and she was right. I developed a permanent crease in my nail, though the nail grew back. My clothes would constantly snag on my was frustrating. And guess what came along with the nail groiwng back....the black linear color spanning across the surface of my nail.

Just yesterday, I expereinced my third biopsy on the nail. This particular time the procedure was completed by a Plastic Surgeon. He took all of my nail off as about 85% of the surface of the nail was black...but he also went into the nail matrix and took the matrix out, which is the place where the actual nail is developed. In doing this, he discovered that it was within my matrix that held black pigments, which he stated was the reason why every time my nail would regenerate and grow, it would grow with the black linear stripe.

Unfortunatley, since he removed my matrix, he told me that my nail may only grow back about 20%, but it is my hope that he completely removed the pigment and I won't have to worry about going through this procedure anymore.

My finger throbs throughout the day, but nothing that 500 miligram Tylenol doesn't fix. I pray this will resolve my problem. It got kinda frustrating when people would always ask me if I slammed my finger in the door and I had to figure out a way to explain to them exactly what was going on...the difficult part about doing that was that I kinda didn't really understand myself.

By the way, I am a 33 year old African-American woman who does not have a family history of cancer. The Plastic Surgeon diagnosed my condition as Melanonyshia Striata. I hope this provides some help.

EagleRunner 08-29-2009 04:19 PM

Re: Brown stripe in finger, please help.
Thanks for the kind words, I have to get off the internet so my reply will be pretty short. :)

We can not find out for sure how much, but she is at least 50-80% native South American ( Inca )

How long did Bob Marley have it? God Rest his soul :( I know they found it in 1977 and he died in 1981. But my questions would have been, how long did he have it before it got really bad? and would it have been stopped if he would have taken the amputation option?

kamfavauntie, your story sounds pretty sad, but also good it is not cancer. I was worried while reading it... but all seems to be well I Pray. Why would you want it taken off and even if it is spreading, if it is found to be benign why go through all the problems? just a precaution or what? I personally don't mind benign as long as it can never be malignant, but if it can then I'd get it out too.

I Pray all goes well for you.

Thanks for all the replies. God Bless

Chele60 08-31-2009 08:06 AM

Re: Brown stripe in finger, please help.
How long did Bob Marley have it? God Rest his soul :( I know they found it in 1977 and he died in 1981. But my questions would have been, how long did he have it before it got really bad? and would it have been stopped if he would have taken the amputation option?


As you state here, Bob Marley was first diagnosed with melanoma in 1977, and he passed in 1981. Now, it is important to remember that he initially refused all medical treatment due to religious reasons. At the very end, he did seek out some alternative treatment, but this after the cancer had spread so badly.

As far as amputation goes, who really knows if Bob Marley would have survived? You will find both rates of success and failure. This type of melanoma is one of the most frightening because it is one of the most deadly and one of the quickest to spread. The reason? Not easy to diagnose and extremely difficult to treat. However, had Bob Marley allowed himself to be treated - amputation - he possibly would have halted the spread of the cancer, and could have given the world more years of his music. As it is, we have been priviledged to enjoy what music he has given us.

However, I would like to say again: your wife has had this for a number of years. If she had melanoma, this is a very, very aggressive type of cancer, and you and she would have known by now. I doubt she has cancer, but, as you are, I would be concerned and have it checked out.

EagleRunner 09-02-2009 01:10 AM

Re: Brown stripe in finger, please help.
Thank you! I just have one more question for now. You mentioned she would have known by now? what did you mean by that? like it is aggresive and spreads rapidly? How long do people have this before getting symptoms? I read once you have symptoms it is progressed, but didn't say how long it usually took. But it does seem aggressive from pictures and reading about it. I just keep Praying. All seems well here, appointment will be here soon.

Chele60 09-02-2009 07:53 AM

Re: Brown stripe in finger, please help.
[QUOTE=EagleRunner;4069541]Thank you! I just have one more question for now. You mentioned she would have known by now? what did you mean by that? like it is aggresive and spreads rapidly? How long do people have this before getting symptoms? I read once you have symptoms it is progressed, but didn't say how long it usually took. But it does seem aggressive from pictures and reading about it. I just keep Praying. All seems well here, appointment will be here soon.[/QUOTE]


Unlike Basal Cell or Squamous Cell cancers, Melanoma in general is much more fast growing and aggressive. Within the melanoma category, melanoma that developes in the nailbed seems to be even more aggressive. Now, this does make sense. If I develop a melanoma on thickest part of my calf, there's a lot of tissue for the melanoma to work it's way through before reaching the lymph system. If a melanoma developes on a nailbed, the area is much more condensed, and melanoma can spread to the lymph system much more quickly. Once melanoma has spread to the lymph system (the lymph nodes), a person is diagnosed with stage III, perhaps even stage IV cancer. Catching melanoma under the nailbed in the very earliest stages is extremely important because of this.

Now, how quickly melanoma advances in an individual is unique to that indvidual. Yet, you stated your wife has had this stripe on her nail for a number of years, yes? I've only known of a couple of people who have melanoma on the nailbed, but with aggressive as melanoma is, if your wife had melanoma under her nail for 4+ years, she would probably showing signs of swollen lymph nodes, and having other concerns that would lead to scans and such. If your wife is in good health otherwise, I sincerely doubt she has melanoma.

EagleRunner 09-10-2009 02:32 PM

Re: Brown stripe in finger, please help.
Went to the dermatologist today, very nice guy. He checked on a few things we were worried about. But as for the nail he said he felt it was benign but could not be 100% sure, he wants us to go to another guy with in the next 3-6 months and get it removed. He said if she was his daughter he would prefer to see it removed. But he was struggling I guess, he said I don't want to see it removed and you come back and find out there was no reason to have it removed, but then I don't want it to be something bad and in 3 years you come back and say I should have gotten it removed. But he said even though the nail will grow funny, better to be safe.

So in a few months we will have surgery just to get it out. But it just made me happy that he felt it was benign. He said moles don't grow past 30, so if she were older he'd be a little more worried.

All seems well. :)

Chele60 09-10-2009 03:27 PM

Re: Brown stripe in finger, please help.
For some reason, it makes me feel better when a doctor tells me what they would tell a loved one to do.

I am glad you two have decided to have this checked out further. At least then, you will know either way and your minds will be at rest. Good decision!

Oh, and not to purposely antagonistic with the good doctor, but moles can indeed grow past age 30, though it is not very common. I will be 50 next year, and I have more moles popping up each month! But the dermatologist does tell me, with my melanoma experience, I probably am the exception.

I'm glad you have a resolution to this!

EagleRunner 09-10-2009 05:20 PM

Re: Brown stripe in finger, please help.
I hope all is well for you. I know I will be happy once the surgery is done and never have to worry about this again. Also it is/was very slow growing. I hear that is a good sign. It is 3mm right now.

AJJN 11-14-2009 05:29 PM

Re: Brown stripe in finger, please help.
This is Eaglerunner on a different name. Chele I have a quick question, I am in Peru here with my wife. we might have surgery here, but we donīt know how to find a good Mohs surgeon. We had a biopsy, they didnīt go into the matrix, only the nail and the skin around it. They said it was benign by just that and it was a regular mole. I donīt know if they can get the results from just the nail and the skin, is that possible? and do you have any recommendations for me? everything seems fine though, and she is still doing well. It seems they knew what they were talking about, and they said they can do surgery there, but how would I know all the cells are gone. That is a big question for me.

Any help would be great! thanks again!

God Bless

Chele60 11-16-2009 08:34 AM

Re: Brown stripe in finger, please help.

I'm not a medical expert, so my opinion is limited. Everything I've read/heard has indicated that a biopsy of the matrix is needed to determine melanoma; however, there may be more advances in medicine than I am aware of and doctors may not have a need to be that intrusive. Being in your shoes, it certainly doesn't hurt to ask questions in this regard. I've always found it helpful to question doctors until I can fully understand what they are doing, in terms I can understand.

Once surgery is performed, the surgeon will discuss the results with you and your wife. During surgery, samples will be sent to a pathologist for tests (biopsies). That will determine if the surgeon achieved what is called "clear margins." This means there are no other cells in the area surrounding where the surgery took place.

It would be worth your while to find a MOHs surgeon, though I'm not sure how you would go about doing that in Peru.

I really wish you and your wife the best. Keep us all posted. If there is anything else I might be able to help with, just let me know.

AJJN 01-12-2010 05:13 PM

Re: Brown stripe in finger, please help.
I am going to post everything I wrote in my blog here. How are you doing Chele? God Bless you all

Today was the best day of my life. I don't know how many of you knew, but recently my Wife and I had a scare, she had a black strip on her nail for many years, a black strip in the nail can be subungual melanoma, the rarest form of melanoma. Melanoma is the worst of all skin cancers. Subungual melanoma if caught in the beginning stages has a cure rate as any other melanoma, but as with any cancer, once metastasized, if might lead to losing the finger, arm, or life. This is the same disease that killed Bob Marley.

It all started around the middle of August, I was looking up something on the internet before heading to bed, I then read about the disease, and was up for hours after.

We had an appointment with a Dermatologist, who then referred us to a Mohs surgeon, We had no insurance, in the meantime we went to Peru for a little over 2 months and got a biopsy there, the biopsy was not done 100% correctly from my knowledge that I read on this.

I was sick over this, I did not want to tell anyone about this, I wanted to forget all about it, while trying to get a proper biopsy. Also in the meantime, I am not sure what caused it, but I started having breathing trouble where I could not get a deep breath. I am now recovering from this.

My heart hurt when I would think, just for one second being with out the love of my life... it doesn't make sense, how could I be put in this situation? I would Pray in my head multiple times in minutes, I'd stop in the middle of sentences to Pray to myself. I Prayed and Prayed hard, my life was a total wreck, although I put on a beautiful mask. Happy, living my life as if I were still the man I once was, thinking about the life ahead, growing old with the one I love. But deep inside, I knew what the possibility was.

While in Peru the Dermatologist we saw referred Lorena and I to someone who might work with us financially, I e-mailed him, and they responded saying he wanted to see my wife Consultation would be 50 dollars.

Sunday, November 24th, 2009... was the date we got the e-mail from the Mohs surgeon who would perform the biopsy, we got back to America November 27th, our One year anniversary of being Married.

Monday, January 4th, 2010, we had to rescheduled the appointments twice. Only making it longer for me to know, but today was the day we went, It was hard, we waited in the lobby... I was so nervous, I was scared, Praying, and thinking an awful lot. Once in he drilled a hole in the nail matrix to get the mole. He saw we didn't have any insurance and almost didn't do the biopsy thinking we might not be able to pay for the results from the pathologist. He understood neither of us had jobs, and he waived the 50 dollar fee, and said if malignant he would perform surgery for free. So we would have money to pay the pathologist for the results. If benign and we wanted surgery to come back when we had jobs and insurance.

Monday, January 11th, 2010, the results should be in today, 8:03 am I called and the lady told me she would call back later that the Administrator had not yet come in. I couldn't wait, so 11:34 am I called back, still no results. The rest of the day I waited nervously, when my phone rang, my heart jumped. But no call.

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010, I called again this time 12:01 noon(pm), she told me that the results are in, it shows a nevus or naevus. It means benign mole, but she was not certain yet because the Doctor had not signed off on it yet.
4:45pm I called back, she said he still had not signed on it, and most likely will tomorrow, she believed it was benign, but she said maybe she missed something the Doctor could see, we will find out soon.
5:06 pm, my heart jumped, it was them, I answered and she told me that he had signed on it, it is benign and nothing can hurt her.

Thank God :) It was all Jesus and he always watches over us.

Thank Jesus everyday... I sure do. :)

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