In the previous month, about 37 percent of the hairdressers said they had looked at the scalps of half their customers; nearly 29 percent had examined the necks of more than half their clients and about 15 percent had checked the faces of more than 50 percent of customers. The head and neck probably were examined more often than faces because hairdressers and barbers spend more time behind their customers than in front of them, the researchers said.
The greater the hairdressers' own awareness of good skin protection practices, the more likely they were to examine a customer's skin, the study found.
Fifty-eight percent of the hairdressers said they had recommended at least one client to see a doctor for an abnormal mole.
Sixty-nine percent said they were "somewhat" or "very likely" to give customers a pamphlet on skin cancer. In addition, about half said they were "very" or "extremely" interested in taking part in a skin cancer education program, the researchers found.
Moreover, 25 percent said they "often" or "always" share general health information with their customers.
But fewer than one-third actually had any formal training about skin cancer.
Dr. Shasa Hu, an assistant professor in the department of dermatology and cutaneous surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, agreed that hairdressers and barbers can play a significant role in detecting skin cancer early.
"There is a need for public education on skin cancer," Hu said. "This is a great way to expand education about skin cancer."
"We don't want hairdressers diagnosing skin cancer; we want hairdressers to pay attention to their customer's scalp and behind the ears and neck, basically areas that customers cannot access easily, and point out any suspicious lesions so that customers can go to a physician," Hu said.
Melanoma of the head and neck is particularly lethal. For early-stage melanoma of the head or neck, the five-y
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