A skin inspection uncovers Nancy's lifesaving breast cancer diagnosis

Nancy Nagler – Medfield, Massachusetts

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Nancy Nagler's story

I’ve had several bouts with breast cancer over the last 25 years. In 2006, several years since my last occurrence, I had an itchy rash on my breast, and I made an appointment with Dr. Valori Treloar, my longtime dermatologist in Newton. She immediately wanted to biopsy it— and called my house on a Sunday night to let me know she’d found breast cancer cells. I had no inclination that was possible.

Prior to calling me, Dr. Treloar called and made an appointment for me to see my oncologist right away. It turned out I had a very rare form of Stage 3 inflammatory breast cancer. It had not spread, but it was very aggressive. After a year of very intensive chemotherapy and a mastectomy, I recovered. Dr. Treloar saved my life.

Flash forward to 2015. I had another rash, this time on my collarbone. Dr. Treloar did a biopsy and determined that my breast cancer had spread to my skin. The tissue from the biopsy ultimately allowed me to participate in a clinical trial for an immunotherapy drug—which put my cancer in remission.  

Twice, Dr. Treloar helped save my life. Sometimes if you’re not looking for something, you don’t see it. Dr. Treloar sees a rash and says ‘Hmm, there’s something suspicious.’

The dermatologist's perspective

Nancy came to me with a rash on the breast. I was pretty sure that it was inflammatory breast cancer. We did a biopsy, and it confirmed that that was the case. The skin is simply part of the body, and gives us many clues about systemic disease.

– Valori Treloar, MD, Integrative Dermatology

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