Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cut. Color. Cancer Screening?

Your new ally in the fight against skin cancer just might be your hairstylist. Researchers have found that although few hairdressers have been formally trained to spot cancer, many are checking their clients’ scalps and necks for moles and 58 percent have made a recommendation to get one checked.

While fatal melanomas on the scalp are rare, it is an area that is difficult for people to check on their own. Some don’t even realize it is possible to get skin cancer there. Unfortunately our scalps are often ignored when applying sunscreen. If not specially formulated for scalps, sunscreen tends to make hair look greasy. Hair does offer some protection, but part-lines, cowlicks and areas of thinning hair are vulnerable. There are sprays available that offer protection and hats are always a good choice.

If your hairdresser finds a mole, it is important to remember that moles are common. The average person has 10 to 40 on their body and not every mole is cancerous or needs to be removed. The American Academy of Dermatology has published the ABCs of evaluating moles to help you examine your skin. Look for abnormal Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter or Evolution.

Checking your skin often improves your chance of finding melanoma early which in turn increases your chance for a positive outcome. So next time you go into a salon ask your stylist to alert you to any moles, but don’t let that replace regular visits to your dermatologist.

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