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In This Section

Stylists Against Skin Cancer

Program Overview


Skin cancer is a growing health concern in North America. It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime [1]. If detected early and treated quickly, skin cancer is curable. If allowed to progress and spread to other parts of the body, it is very difficult to treat and is almost always fatal. Most skin cancer deaths are from melanoma, and on average, one American dies from melanoma every hour. Last year, it is estimated that 9,480 deaths were due to melanoma – 6,280 men and 3,200 women [2]. The key to reducing the devastating effects of skin cancer is prevention and early detection. Unfortunately, most people aren't aware of the warning signs of skin cancer.

Stylists Against Skin CancerHair professionals can assist dermatologists in the early diagnosis of skin cancer. Stylists Against Skin Cancer is a dermatologist-led educational campaign for hair professionals that focuses on detection and prevention of scalp skin cancer. Because hair professionals see the entire scalp, they can find growths on the scalp that clients might not see. They also form trusting, long-term relationships with their clients that are solidified over multiple visits. This allows hair professionals to counsel their clients on healthy behavior and sun protection. With education, hair professionals may identify suspicious skin growths during the course of their work and prompt clients to visit a dermatologist for further investigation. The true benefit is the referral and awareness that the hair professional can bring to the client.

Currently, skin cancer education is not uniformly addressed in cosmetology school. Given the unique opportunities hair professionals have for client scalp assessment and the high prevalence of skin cancer, hair professionals may have the opportunity to note skin growths that warrant a dermatological evaluation. It is not the hair stylist’s role, nor are hair stylists qualified, to diagnose skin cancer. However, training hair stylists in detecting features of skin cancer with prompt referral to a dermatologist may improve skin cancer detection. For this reason, the Stylists Against Skin Cancer program was created to raise awareness of scalp skin cancer among hair stylists. By detecting growths suspicious for skin cancer and making appropriate referrals to dermatologists early, hair professionals can help to prevent the progression of potentially dangerous skin cancers. With education, hair professionals can serve as a link between the community and dermatologists.

SHADE logoDownload Stylists Against Skin Cancer informational video: vimeo.com/asdsskinexperts/asdsshade

Download facts hair and beauty professionals should know about scalp skin cancer: Trifold (PDF) 

Download SHADE referral cards: Referral cards (PDF) 

Learning Objectives

  1. Describe the warning signs of the most common scalp skin cancers.
  2. Demonstrate basic ways to look for scalp skin cancer.
  3. Develop an understanding of when and how to refer clients to a dermatologist.
  4. Become well-versed in approaching clients with skin abnormalities in a way that promotes positive attitudes towards visiting the doctor with any concerns.
  5. Discuss effective preventive measures for skin cancers, including patient education resources.

Who should attend


Any hair professional or cosmetology student is welcome to attend.

Education approach

This course is presented in-person by the instructor in an interactive lecture format.


Ramona Behshad, MD
St. Louis, MO


  1. Stern RS. Prevalence of a history of skin cancer in 2007: results of an incidence-based model. Arch Dermatol. 2010 Mar;146(3):279-82.
  2. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2013. http://www.cancer.org/research/cancerfactsfigures/cancerfactsfigures/cancer-facts-figures-2013
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