Healthcare News & Insights

Could your cancer be diagnosed by your hair stylist?

A bounce in your step and flattering layers aren’t the only benefits you can get from a good hairstylist — he or she may also be able to detect if you have skin cancer. 

That’s the hope of researchers who are encouraging hairstylists and other “hands-on” professionals, such as manicurists and massage therapists to get trained to detect skin cancer.

Ten percent of cancers appear on the scalp, which is a particularly difficult place for even the most diligent patients to check themselves. It’s also an area of the body that isn’t always thoroughly checked by physicians. Researchers surveyed Houston-area stylists and barbers about their experiences. They found that while few had any formal training in detecting cancer, more than half said they had already identified a lesion or cancerous mole on a customer. Most also were interested in learning more about how to detect cancerous growths.

Hair stylists are in a particularly good position to notice cancers of the scalp since they generally see the same customer several times a year, and are more apt to notice changes in an otherwise benign-looking mole.

The researchers are already starting to train local stylists, as are some doctors in other parts of the country.

The study appeared in the Archives of Dermatology.

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