Man's harmless pimple turned out to be cancer

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In 2013, Stephen Schroeder noticed a spot on his groin -- something that's not unusual for many people.

"I was pretty sure it was an ingrown hair, so I ignored it for six months," he told The Washington Post.

He assumed the pimple would go away on its own.

Eventually, it disappeared, and a dime-size, scaly rash appeared on his scrotum.

He told The Washington Post he assumed it was jock itch, a common fungal infection, and did nothing for months.

When he finally went to the dermatologist, a doctor told him that he actually had a rare cancer called extramammary Paget's disease, or EMPD.

It involves the same glands that produce sweat, and it appears on the private parts of both men and women.

Doctors aren't sure what causes the cancer, but they do know it's slow-growing and only strikes two years after the appearance of the first symptoms.

EMPD is hard to spot because it mimics common skin disorders like eczema.

According to The Washington Post, the dermatologist told Schroeder he didn't know anything about EMPD, and it would be best if he saw a plastic surgeon instead.

Schroeder said he read online that the disease was a "death sentence."

"I was just freaking out. I spent a lot of time praying and a lot of time crying," he told The Washington Post.

After years of searching for answers, Schroeder had an eight-hour surgery to remove the cancer. His groin had to be rebuilt using skin grafted from his leg.

Since then, he has had three surgeries to remove similar spots.

Schroeder told The Washington Post he hopes his experience will serve as a cautionary tale.

"Guys like to put stuff off," he said. "If this convinces one guy to get something checked out, it'll be worth it."

Read more about ways you can avoid cancer:

17 PHOTOS
Common foods suspected of causing cancer
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Common foods suspected of causing cancer

Microwave popcorn

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Soda

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Non-organic fruit

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Processed meats

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Alcohol

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Farmed salmon

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Refined sugars

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Canned tomatoes 

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Potato chips

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Hydrogenated oils

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Artificial sweeteners

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Foods that are highly salted, pickled, or smoked

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Red meat

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Highly processed white flours

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"Diet" or "Low Fat" anything

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Genetically modified organisms (GMO's)

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