Published On: Wed, Feb 19th, 2020

Delray Beach Dermatologist Detects Patient’s Lung Cancer During Routine Visit

Boca Raton, FL – When Richard Danzer went to see his dermatologist for what he thought was a routine skin check recently, the visit turned into a lifesaving one.

The Delray Beach man said he asked his doctor about a growth on his back, which he thought was harmless.

“I was concerned about, it but everyone said, ‘Oh it’s just a fatty mass,’” Danzer told WPEC TV (CBS-12).

Dr. Brittany Smirnov had a hunch that it would require extra examination. She said there were two reasons to raise the alarm.

“We became very suspicious that this was not in fact a cyst but lung cancer,” Smirnov, of Dermatology Associates of the Palm Beaches, told the television station. “It felt really hard, too hard to be a cyst really. And [it was] fixed to the underlying structures, which means it didn’t move around freely.”

Unfortunately, those clues signaled something serious. It turned out to be something far more dangerous – stage 4 metastatic lung cancer.

Smirnov said it was a good thing they caught it when they did, because if Danzer had waited longer to be seen his cancer could have rapidly become fatal. 

Like many dermatologists in Florida, Smirnov said she sees plenty of skin cancer and is trained to find it quickly. 

She recommends taking all lumps, bumps, and marks on the skin seriously and visiting a board-certified dermatologist just in case.

“Even things as simple as a cyst might not really be a cyst, it could be something else going on,” Smirnov said. “I like to joke that dermatologists train our entire lives to be little detectives.” 

This is not the first time Smirnov has caught something like this during a simple skin exam. She recommends scheduling a check-up with your dermatologist any time there is a new or changing skin condition. “Sometimes the first person that gets to really see it and takes the time to evaluate it will be your dermatologist,” Smirnov said.

Thankfully, Danzer was able to receive several radiation and chemotherapy treatments over the past year and is now in remission. He says he owes it all to Smirnov.

“She saved my life, it’s that simple,” Danzer said. “I had stage four lung cancer. You know, there is no stage five. I don’t know that I would’ve survived.”

And Danzer’s message to anyone who’s considering skipping their next routine checkup at the dermatologist?

“Go. Now. Absolutely. Had it not been for her, I’d have been dead,” he said. 

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