True Story: Scalp Melanoma Can be Deadly and Hard to Detect

Heads Up: Scalp Melanoma is Deadly and Tricky to Detect

As we edge closer to summertime, this story about a melanoma scare from Today Show contributor and dermatologist Dr. Deborah Sarnoff  serves as a cautionary tale about using sunscreen (or wearing hats!) and getting full body mole checks. Dr. Sarnoff was in the hair salon getting her regular wash and cut when her hairstylist noticed what looked like a piece of dirt on her scalp. That piece of dirt actually turned out to be a new mole with irregular borders and a range of colors–telltale signs of melanoma skin cancer.

Detecting scalp melanoma at the hairdresser

Dr. Sarnoff immediately panicked and headed straight to the lab for a biopsy. It turns out, the mortality rate of those with melanoma on the scalp is twice as high than melanoma on other parts of the body–a troubling thought for those of us who forget to put sunscreen on our scalps or neglect to wear hats in the summertime. Luckily Dr. Sarnoff did not have melanoma, her lesion was actually a benign blue nevis, which can look like melanoma.

Getting an annual mole check is key in preventing melanoma and catching early stages of any skin cancer. Also talk to your hairstylist and ask them to please let you know if there’s any suspicious looking marks that don’t wash away with shampoo on your scalp. You can also tell them to check out Dr. Sarnoff’s organization Heads Up, which she started with the Skin Cancer Foundation. Heads Up helps train hair professionals and aestheticians on detecting skin cancer on the scalp.

About Schweiger Dermatology Group

Schweiger Dermatology Group was founded to help make excellent dermatology care accessible throughout the Northeast. In 2010, Dr. Eric Schweiger started the practice with a single location in Midtown Manhattan. When he saw the need for high-quality dermatology care that did not require weeks or months of waiting to see a qualified provider, his vision of a multi-location practice was born.

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