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Skin Cancer Update with A/Prof Giuseppe Argenziano [January 2018]
A multi-centre study has explored the prevalence of melanoma on hairy scalps in comparison to bald scalps. Associate Professor Giuseppe Argenziano explains in this skin cancer update video that – while around 76 per cent of scalp melanomas are found on people with thinning or no hair – a quarter appear on people with hairy scalps.
Scalp melanoma can be aggressive and has a poorer prognosis compared to melanoma found elsewhere on the body, because scalp melanoma is generally thicker at the time of diagnosis. It also looks different depending on where it is located on the scalp itself, making it trickier to identify.
The study, which was conducted by the International Dermoscopy Society, found that nearly 40 percent of scalp melanomas are located on hairless scalps, with an additional 36 percent existing on people with thinning hair. The remaining 24 percent occur on people with a full head of hair –a figure much higher than initially anticipated.
Interestingly, the study also found that younger patients with hairy scalps had a higher instance of melanoma diagnosis than older patients with thinning hair or bald scalps. A/Prof Giuseppe Argenziano explains that melanomas located on hairy scalps are different to those found on bald scalps since the former are related to a genetic predisposition (in younger patients) and the latter are related to sun exposure (in older patients).
Additionally, the study recognised that scalp melanomas were thicker on patients with little or no hair. This is potentially because such patients are older and less prone to seek consultation compared to younger people, thereby contributing to the increased thickness of the melanoma by the time it is diagnosed.
Ultimately, it was determined that there is a strong need to improve the early detection of melanoma on the scalp. Since one in every four scalp melanomas is found on hairy scalps, dermatologists should perform scalp inspections on all patients rather than just those with thinning or no hair.
To learn more from A/Prof Giuseppe Argenziano:
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