Early detection is key in fighting breast cancer.
While many women examine their breasts on a regular basis and schedule annual mammograms, breast cancer can also manifest itself in unexpected places, such as in or around the collarbone, in the armpits—and even on the scalp. When US woman, Patty Bolle went to see her hairdresser, she discovered a suspicious-looking bald spot.
"It was just about bigger than a 10 cent piece and it looked like it had been burned,” Bolle's hairdresser, Nikki McClure told WILX, a local news station in Lansing, Michigan. “It was kind of red and splotchy and so I asked her if she burned it and she said no and I kind of poked it a little bit and asked if it was sensitive and she said no."
Bolle went to her doctors, who biopsied her scalp and determined it was metastatic breast cancer, the most advanced stage of the disease. "I was devastated and in shock because I had already battled it 13 years ago and won."
Bolle was initially diagnosed with the disease after finding a lump in her breast. She underwent chemo and radiation treatment over the course of nine months. The treatment worked, and after she passed the five-year mark of remission, she thought she was clear and free of cancer forever.
Bolle is currently taking an oral drug that targets cancer cells, and is feeling optimistic, despite the fact that she knows “it will eventually come back.” Metastatic breast cancer is the most deadly form of breast cancer because it has spread to other parts of the body—most commonly, the bones, lungs, livers and brains. According to a 2017 review, breast cancer manifestations in the head and neck are relatively rare.
While the chances are slim that your hairdresser is going to find breast cancer on your head, McClure’s story is a great reminder that your body is constantly giving you clues about your health in a variety of ways.
It is always important to pay attention to signs and symptoms that appear or feel out of your normal and to see your physician immediately about them. And, if you spot something abnormal in another person, speak up—it could save their life.
The article originally appeared on Prevention US.