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[2 min read] Skin cancer checks on the scalp | Prof David Wilkinson
A question I am always asked when I teach GPs to do a skin check is “how should we examine the scalp, and how important is this for skin cancer?”. This issue is, of course, how many skin cancers “hide” under hair, how do we examine the scalp under the hair, and how important is all this?
The paper we present this month – from a study done in Australia and Italy – is very insightful. It provides some reassurance and reinforces the need for careful examination.
Most melanomas were identified on bald or thinly-haired scalps (64 per cent), but the rest were under hairy areas. Melanomas on thickly haired sites were more likely to be invasive.
The bottom line? Most melanomas are readily visible, and the rest are likely to be found with a careful examination by a doctor (rather than the patient or a hairdresser). Careful examination, including parting the hair systematically and deliberately, is key.
Prof David Wilkinson