How a Keen Eye for Skin Changes Helped a Patient Get Vital Care

July 11, 2021

Elementary school secretary Kay Dillon remembers having an itchy spot in the middle of her back. But she never thought much about it until she was having her regular mammogram at St. Mary’s Women’s Imaging Center.

During the screening, her mammographer noticed a mole on her back and asked Dillon if she’d seen it. “It was right by my spine, right in the middle of my back,” Dillon remembers. Because of where it was located, she couldn’t see it herself.

Her mammographer suggested she have it checked out, so at a routine doctor’s appointment a couple of weeks later, Dillon asked about the spot. She then had some testing done.

“They did a little biopsy, took a piece out and it came back as melanoma,” she says. Melanoma is much less common than some other types of skin cancers. But melanoma is more dangerous because it’s much more likely to spread to other parts of the body if not caught and treated early, according to the American Cancer Society®.

Shortly afterward, Dillon had the spot removed in an outpatient procedure with a dermatologist. She now has regular skin checks to help catch any potential problems early.

Dillon, 56, says she never thought that the itchiness on her back would turn out to be skin cancer. “I’m so thankful she said something and we got rid of it before it was too far along,” she says of her mammographer. “She possibly saved my life.”

Know the Warning Signs 

Woman and man in a garden watering a plant
 

Different types of skin cancer can have different signs. The American Cancer Society says to point out anything you’re concerned about to your doctor, including:

  • Any new spots
  • Any spot that doesn’t look like others on your body
  • Any sore that doesn’t heal
  • Redness or new swelling beyond the border of a mole
  • Color that spreads from the border of a spot into surrounding skin
  • Itching, pain, or tenderness in an area that doesn’t go away or goes away then comes back
  • Changes in the surface of a mole: oozing, scaliness, bleeding, or the appearance of a lump or bump