WASHINGTON -- Laura Bush said in an interview aired yesterday that she first thought a sore on her right shin that turned out to be skin cancer was an insect bite.
"Actually, it never occurred to me to make it public," she told Bob Shieffer in an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation."
"It was very minor," she said. "I thought it was an insect bite, actually, when I first got it, and then it just didn't get well."
The first lady said that a biopsy was done before the November election.
Squamous-cell carcinoma involves a malignant tumor and is the second-most common form of skin cancer.
She said that it was removed right after the election, adding: "I was never sick. I never felt badly."
Bush said she hopes her experience will prompt people to pay closer attention to possible signs of cancer. She attributed the cancer to the hot West Texas sun and to her fair complexion.
"I never did a lot of sunbathing like some of my friends did, because I didn't tan, really," she said. "But of course I played outside for my whole childhood."
White House officials were questioned about why the cancer had not been disclosed until more than a month after its removal.
The first lady's secretary, Susan Whitson, said the procedure was a "private matter" but it was disclosed when reporters asked.
The cancer affects the middle portion of the epidermal skin layer. It is more aggressive than basal cell cancer, the most common form of skin cancer.