Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. It is derived from melanocytes, the skin’s pigment cells, and can spread quickly through the lymph nodes or blood-stream if not detected at an early stage. Scalp melanomas are more lethal than other melanomas. One nationwide study found that people with scalp and neck melanomas die from the disease at nearly twice the rate of people with melanomas elsewhere on the body.
Why are scalp melanomas more lethal?
According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. August A. Natalie, “One reason is the delay in diagnosis because of their location, in an area usually hidden by hair. They aren’t as easy to notice as a spot on your arm or leg. Some also believe that the scalp provides the right conditions for the melanoma to spread, since it has abundant blood vessels and lymphatics. Melanoma isn’t the only form of skin cancer than can develop on the scalp. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma have been found and removed on scalps as well.”
What to look for?
Hair professionals are in a unique position to detect skin cancers on the scalp because they have a natural view of its difficult-to-see areas during a salon visit. They see their clients on a regular basis, and may frequently discuss health-related topics, such as wellness, illness, diet and medical care.
“The appearance of skin cancer on the scalp will vary depending on the type of skin cancer,” added Dr. Natalie, “but it is important to be on the lookout for any suspicious spots that may appear as pink blemishes, pigmented moles, scaly patches, red and crusty patches and raised moles with uneven borders.”
Regardless of whether you have noticed an odd or changing mole, a yearly skin examination is always recommended as a preventative measure to skin cancer. The skin health experts at Forefront Dermatology are ready to see you for a simple, 10 minute skin cancer screening. To find the Forefront dermatologist nearest you, visit the locations page today.