Archive for February 9th, 2011

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Recently I went to the dermatologist for my annual skin checkup. I am fair-skinned and in the past I’ve had to have pieces of skin removed because it looked suspicious for skin cancer. Having skin removed is not fun but getting malignant melanoma is even less fun.  So, I go every year and get a check up to make sure I am not growing anything cancerous on my skin.

As a massage therapists I also have to be alert to skin cancer because I see my client’s backs, backs of legs and arms more frequently than the dermatologist. And my hair dresser sees my scalp more often as well.

While I was in my check up, the doc looked through my hair to see my scalp. She told me to tell my hairdresser to look at my scalp during each hair cut as well. Now, many people wouldn’t think of asking their massage therapist or hair dresser for a skin cancer checkup. And by law, we are not allowed to diagnose or tell you have skin cancer. but we are supposed to tell you if we see anything unusual or that looks like it MIGHT be cancerous. At this point we can tell you that we see something out of the ordinary and then refer you to your dermatologist. Hair dressers as well can’t diagnose skin cancer. but they do see more of your scalp than you do!

So next time you get your hair cut, make sure you tell your hair dresser/barber to “check under the hood” as in check out your scalp and pay attention to any unusual moles, freckles or discolorations of the skin. Especially note if the moles, freckle or skin discoloration changes size, appears to be growing or changes in any way.

ABCD Rule-How to Check for signs of potential melanoma from the American Melanoma Association:
Be alert for a sudden or continuous change in the appearance of a mole is a sign that you should see your doctor. The ABCD rule can help you remember the symptoms of melanoma:

A for Asymmetry
One half is different than the other half.

B for Border Irregularity
The edges are notched, uneven, or blurred.

C for Color
The color is uneven. Shades of brown, tan,
and black are present.

D for Diameter
Diameter is greater than 6 millimeters.

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