Why Your Hairdresser Might Save Your Life
Get someone to regularly look at your scalp
Edited By:Raja Sivamani , MD, MS, AP
Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. The skin is the largest organ in the body, which means we may overlook some parts of the skin that cancer could appear. Many people see their hairstylists, colorists, and, other health specialists on a regular basis so they are important connections in detecting skin cancer in places like the scalp and neck.
The incidence of melanoma is rapidly increasing worldwide, with head and neck melanomas proving to be one of the most dangerous. This type of melanoma accounts for 6% of melanomas, yet 10% of all deaths. When diagnosed early, melanomas can have high cure rates, but when it is found at an advanced stage with deeper growth, there is a poor survival rate.
Since scalp and neck melanomas are typically found with a worse prognosis than facial melanomas, it can be critical for hairdressers to note any unusual scalp lesions that would harken a dermatological evaluation. Hair does provide substantial sun protection, but melanoma can still appear anywhere on the skin, including places with zero sun exposure.
Detection by Hairdressers
There have been several cases of skin cancer detected by hairdressers, demonstrating their value to potentially assist in early diagnosis of scalp melanoma. They can bring any suspicious spots to the attention of the client and encourage them to get it checked by a doctor.
It will be beneficial to the medical care of patients and for the outcome of scalp melanomas that hairdressers are used in the early detection process of these melanomas. Due to their unique relationship with clients, they can serve as an important line of defense against head and neck melanomas.
Regular self-examination for suspicious skin lesions is one method of detecting early skin cancers. Skin examinations have been found to lead to decreased melanoma thickness at the time of diagnosis in comparison to people who do not perform self-examinations. The thickness of a melanoma is very important in how dangerous and deadly it is.
However, in hard to see places, such as the scalp, it is difficult to perform an effective self-examination. People with thinning hair or who are bald lose the protective layer of hair and are also at increased risk for head and neck melanoma. Growing people’s awareness of skin cancer and allowing health and wellness stylists to detect spots can help prevent a delayed diagnosis of these melanomas.
The power that hairdressers may have when it comes to checking for skin cancer should not be overlooked. Although the ability of hairdressers to detect melanoma has not been largely studied, several studies demonstrate that hairdressers can play an important role in melanoma detection. By being able to detect melanomas early, improved outcomes in scalp melanomas may be achieved. Although hairdressers do not receive formal training for skin cancer detection at this time, their role in noticing suspicious spots is gaining important recognition.
The next time you are at the barber or the hairdresser, ask if they see spots that you should have checked out with your doctor.
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