Lucky escape ... Samantha Holder was fortunate to catch the cancer early.

Lucky escape ... Samantha Holder was fortunate to catch the cancer early.

A rare melanoma may have claimed the tip of her finger but it won't take away Samantha Holder's smile as she walks down the aisle on her wedding day.

Next Thursday, the 39-year-old will get married just a few weeks after a medical scare left her counting her lucky stars.

Ms Holder attended a cosmetic clinic for a little facial "freshen up" in the lead-up to her wedding when physician and skin cancer expert, Dr Eddie Roos, noticed an unusual blemish under the nail of her left index finger.

The thumb showing the signs of the rare form of cancer.

The thumb showing the sign of the rare form of cancer.

"The first thing he noticed was my index finger nail with the brown streak through it," she said.

"I had a biopsy and one week later he confirmed it was a rare nail bed cancer. Another week later they took it off.

"It is a very aggressive melanoma that can quickly turn into lymphoma cancer."

Ms Holder had an operation to remove the tip and first knuckle of her index finger.

"It was a scary experience because it happened so quickly," she said.

"It was like a dream."

As a self-confessed sun lover, Ms Holder said the experience had changed her attitude.

"I am a lot more conscience of sun safety now," she said.

"I will have to have check-ups every three months, then every six months and then every 12 months."

Dr Roos said the prevalence of subungual melanoma was about one per million people each year.

"They are more common on thumbs and big toes, but they can be present on any digit," he said.

"Look out for parallel brown or black pigmented lines from the nail bed to the tip of the nail. It looks different to a blood blister.

"While this form of skin cancer is not common, occurrence of melanoma on the rest of the body is approximately one in 100 people, and we encourage people to have regular skin checks, especially the younger generation as melanoma is prevalent in the 15 to 45 age group.

"If you notice a lesion that changes in size, shape, colour or bleeds and does not heal properly, you should see a doctor about it straight away."