Hair Stylists Can Be Expert Skin Cancer Spotters

Of all the spots on the body skin cancer can develop, the top of the head is probably the toughest for you to scope out yourself. That’s where hair stylists come in, doubling as lesion detectors for customers. Researchers in Houston found that half the stylists surveyed had detected cancerous lesions on customers’ noggins.

MSNBC reports the study was led by a Harvard University School of Public Health lecturer who says regular hair appointments can double as cancer screenings:

“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 on the scalp. Most people make 10 visits or more a year to see their hair dressers and barbers and they tend to look more carefully for mold and legions on the scalp.”

The researchers hope to start formal screening programs that will help turn stylists into expert screeners who really earn those tips.

Surprising skin cancer spotter? Your hair stylist [MSNBC]


Edit Your Comment

  1. DoubleA000 says:

    So wait… they’re looking for mold and army units? No wonder physicians aren’t finding them.

  2. Cat says:

    I spent five ghastly years at the Hairdressers’ Training Centre at Totnes. Can you imagine what it’s like cutting the same head for five years? I didn’t want to be a barber anyway.

    I wanted to be a lumberjack.

    • Tunnen says:

      Leaping from tree to tree! As they float down the mighty rivers
      of British Columbia! With my best girl by my side!
      The Larch!
      The Pine!
      The Giant Redwood tree!
      The Sequoia!
      The Little Whopping Rule Tree!
      We’d sing! Sing! Sing!

      Oh, I’m a lumberjack, and I’m okay,
      I sleep all night and I work all day…..

      • Cat says:

        I thought you were so butch!

        • Tunnen says:

          It’s a little funny, since I’m actually in British Columbia and Vancouver, the main metropolitan centre in BC, also has a strong GLBT community…

          I’m surprised our sister city isn’t San Fransisco. We have a large city park at the end of a long suspension bridge, they do too. We have the 2nd largest Chinatown community, right behind them. We have a strong GLBT community and so do they. We are a western port, they are too. We are both known for our liberals, hippie/pot smokers and environmentalists activists…. The only thing really setting us apart is that we are Canadians =P Well maybe also the rain we get =P

    • MarvinMar says:

      And I thought you were soo rugged!

  3. Darrone says:

    The thought of tying my super-cut to my long term health seems like a bad idea.

    • rpm773 says:


      The Supercut stylists may very well be expert cancer screeners, but they never seemed to be able to cut my hair worth a shit.

    • Tunnen says:

      Hmm, I wonder if I could weasel my extended health benefits to pay for my haircuts as a cancer screening…

      I figure their company weasels will out weasel my weaseling though. =P

  4. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    “Most people make 10 visits or more a year to see their hair dressers and barbers and they tend to look more carefully for mold and legions on the scalp.”

    I don’t go 10 times a year. I go maybe 2 or 3 times a year because it’s usually around $60 each time and Mr. Pi goes about 10 times a year, so that eclipses my $100-$150 expense per year.

    • Absinthe says:

      I haven’t been properly “styled” in ages, relying on supercuts for the most part. My hair gets less less noticeable with each cut. Pretty soon I’ll be able to recruit my sister and a bowl to bring my costs down even further. I’ll be back to the dorothy hammel cut of my youth any time now.

    • Tunnen says:

      Unfortunately there isn’t too much styling you can do with the type of hair I have… I have the choice of a small afro or a large one. On the bright side, I only need to visit a barber at $12 a visit every 3 or so months…. so that’s like $50/year in hair maintenance…

      I was also thinking I could maybe get my hair done even cheaper by going to the local petting farm and visit the sheep pen when they do the sheering. =P

    • philpm says:

      Hell, I might be screwed. I haven’t had my hair cut in almost two years.

    • HannahK says:

      Yeah…That statement made me feel like a weirdo for only getting haircuts once a year or so.

  5. Not Given says:

    Is that mold or moles?

  6. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    I imagine it’s a better idea to squirrel away an extra $25/month into one’s HSA and see a dermatologist once a year.

  7. Tim says:

    Sweet, now I don’t have to worry about these strange, asymmetrical spots I’ve started to find on my skin after going outside naked all day for most of the summer with no sunblock, because my hair stylist hasn’t said anything.

  8. proliance says:

    The people who cut my hair could use some training on this subject. I have actinic kerotosis (and occasionally skin cancer) on the top of my head and it freakin hurts when they bang the clippers on the bad spots.

    Maybe I should go to Great Clips just after a scrape and burn session to remind them to be more careful.

  9. pythonspam says:

    I recently had a benign cyst removed from my scalp and every time, the (corporate-chain) stylist would inform me that I had a bump and then promptly cut my hair so it wouldn’t show.

  10. JiminyChristmas says:

    I must be doomed. I was losing my hair anyway so I shaved my head 15 years ago. I cut it myself with clippers, so I haven’t seen a hair stylist since 1996.

    On the up side, I guess if I remind the doctor to check out my scalp he’ll have an unobstructed view of it.

  11. brinks says:

    Mold and legions, huh?

    How about moles and lesions?

  12. HogwartsProfessor says:

    One of my coworkers has a suspicious spot on his head. I told him about it and he flippantly replied, “Yeah, I know; it’s probably skin cancer or something.” After surviving surgery to remove his entire colon and reconstruct his digestive tract to avoid a certain death by colon cancer, it would be ironic if a stupid mole ended up killing him. :P

  13. LastError says:

    They said something similar when the tried to recruit letter carriers (the mailman) to act as eyes and ears and watch out for senior citizens on their routes. It was a good idea. Let the people who see the old folks most often do a minor level of welfare checking.

    What happened in my area is that the USPS suddenly mandated curbside mailboxes so the actual carriers no longer get close to the houses and almost never see the seniors they are supposed to be watching over.

    The policy was effectively shot down by people who have no actual interest in complying with it.

    • RandomHookup says:

      The one thing they can still do is notice if someone isn’t picking up his/her mail. That’s probably more important than getting close to the house itself.