Hair stylist finds breast cancer on woman's scalp

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HOLT, Mich. (WILX) It's no secret the best way to fight breast cancer is with early detection. That's why doctors urge women to examine their breasts on a regular basis. But there are cases where the cancer shows up in a place you'd least expect it.

Patty Bolle of Haslett is fighting her second round of breast cancer. The first was diagnosed about 13 years ago. Back then, Bolle found a lump in her breast on her own. She said, "I went through the chemo and radiation and surgery to remove all signs of that. That was a course of nine months."

Bolle recovered nicely, and after passing the 5-year point, she thought she was cancer-free. Until a year ago, when she sat in her stylist's chair for a hair cut. Bolle said, "Nikki was pulling my hair up and she said, 'Oh my God, you have a bald spot there.' and I said, 'I do?' So she showed me in the mirror and I went, I had no idea."

Nikki McClure of Blush Salon in Holt said, "It was just about bigger than a dime size and it looked like it had been burned. 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."

Doctors biopsied the spot on Bolle's scalp and found it was the most advanced stage of breast cancer. A pet scan showed it had spread. Bolle said, "I was devastated and in shock because I had already battled it for 13 years ago and won." Now fighting the stubborn disease again, Bolle is taking an oral drug that targets cancer cells. She says she's feeling good and optimistic. "I'm not home free, I mean. Metastatic breast cancer its, its relentless and it will eventually come back but at this point with the new drugs that are being out there, um, it could be years." Years Bolle might not have if it weren't for the person who knows her scalp best.

McClure said, "A stylist is the person that looks at your scalp more than your doctor would. You wouldn't go to a physical and they wouldn't pick through your hair and see if anything's out of the ordinary. They tell you to look for freckles and moles on your body but nobody thinks about your scalp."

Doctors say it's not very common to find metastatic breast cancer on the scalp. It usually appears in the liver, brain, bones or lungs.