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Hair Stylists and Barbers Could Be Weapons in War Against Skin Cancer

travelsalem, Flickr

A new study reveals hair stylists and barbers are excellent detectors of skin cancers on the scalp, neck and face, areas often difficult to see by others.

Two hundred stylists and barbers in Houston, TX were surveyed, and researchers found that although few of them had been formally trained to spot cancer, more than half had already found cancerous moles or lesions on clients.

While 10 percent of fatal melanomas are found on the scalp, Alan C. Geller, a senior study author and senior lecturer at the Harvard University School of Public Health, said, “The scalp is not a place that people can easily look at on their own, and we don’t think a lot of physicians are looking for melanoma [there].”

Part of the study’s goals were to ascertain whether more training is needed for stylists and barbers, many of whom have expressed interest in learning more about how to better detect skin cancer on their customers.

Dr. Eliot Mostow, professor and chair of the Dermatology Section at Northeastern Ohio College of Medicine, likes the idea. “The concept in this case is to look at how we can close the gap in screening for skin cancer. This might close a clinical practice gap.”


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