15:42 PM

Free MetroHealth Resource Catches Patient's Melanoma

In 2019, Jackie Boewe noticed a little mole on her upper chest. It was so small and seemingly insignificant that she didn’t take immediate action.

But then it grew – fast. It didn't have a defined border, and it had changed color, which are signs of a potential problem.

“That’s when my husband noticed it,” Jackie said. “Fred thought it looked weird. He encouraged me to get it checked out.”

As a patient of MetroHealth’s Cancer Center and a survivor of B-cell skin lymphoma, Fred learned to be proactive with his health care.

Time matters with cancer. Yet it wasn’t until Jackie was put on hold during a MetroHealth phone call that she decided to take action. The on-hold message happened to be about the Snapshot program, a free walk-in skin screening service offered at MetroHealth's Beachwood Health CenterMiddleburg Heights November Family Health Center and Main Campus.

No appointment is necessary for a Snapshot visit. Simply show up and a dermatology nurse will take up to two photos of spots of concern on your skin. A high-resolution iPad camera is used to capture the detail of moles and other skin lesions. The photos are then sent to a MetroHealth board-certified dermatologist for review. Within a week, patients learn if an appointment is necessary for further examination.

Between her husband’s prodding, the on-hold message and Jackie’s recollection of a colleague’s untimely death to melanoma, it was clear the universe was conspiring to get Jackie the help she needed.

And when she did, things happened fast.

During her lunch break, Jackie – a MetroHealth pharmacist since 2002 – walked the short distance from her workstation on Main Campus to the dermatology department. A nurse was available and waiting to snap the life-saving photo. The image of Jackie’s mole was sent to David Crowe, MD, Chair of Dermatology, who reviewed it that same day. He was concerned it could be melanoma and requested an appointment. Three days later, Jackie met with a dermatologist.

Jackie’s father had a history of melanoma on his ear. That history, along with the appearance of the lesion, prompted her dermatologist to do a biopsy.

Shortly after the biopsy, Jackie received the call we all fear.

“I’m sorry, this is melanoma and we want to get this out,” her dermatologist said. That call came on a Friday. By Monday, Jackie was in the office of Thomas Knackstedt, MD, a dermatologic surgeon, who performed her surgery.

“It shocked me how much he had to take out,” she said. “It was a lot, and it was a small mole. I wasn’t ready for that.”

The surgery was a success. Jackie says all her borders came back clear.

“I just have to do a follow-up every three months for a year and then once a year after that," she said.

Since establishing the program in late 2019, more than 120 individuals, mostly MetroHealth patients, have taken advantage of the walk-in Snapshot service. Dr. Crowe views every image, averaging five to 10 a week. Of those, he says 30% require a follow-up appointment and 10% end up having skin cancer or precancerous skin lesions. In July, nurses started using dermatoscopic imaging, which allows for even greater diagnostic capability featuring 10x magnification.

“This is a huge step forward in detecting potential serious conditions,” Dr. Crowe said. To ensure an accurate reading, it's important the images are crisp and clear. Dr. Crowe credits the photography skills of the dermatology nurses for the success of the Snapshot program.

According to Dr. Crowe, suspicious moles are not something to wait on.

“The free Snapshot service has helped us get patients the care they need, when and where they need it without the wait," he said.

If you or someone you love has a suspicious spot, get it checked out. No appointment is neccesary with Snapshot. Check times and locations here.