Therapists called upon to help identify skin cancer

Beauty therapists are in a unique position to educate clients about the sun damage and spot early signs of skin cancer. This is according to consultant plastic surgeon and skin cancer specialist Mr Paul Banwell, speaking to Professional Beauty on the recent findings from Cancer Research UK (CRUK) that the incidence of malignant melanoma among British patients has increased seven-fold in 40 years.

“These findings come as no surprise, certainly not to us working on the coal face,” said Banwell. “We know that skin cancer is increasing dramatically. We need to improve recognition.”

These latest figures released by CRUK show that an average 5,700 over 65s are now diagnosed with melanoma each year. Men in that age group are 10 times more likely to develop a melanoma now that they were in the mid 1970s, while women over 65 are five times as likely.

CRUK has attributed the rise in patients of this age group to the boom in cheap package holidays in the last 40 years. CRUK’s skin cancer expert, Professor Richard Marais, said, “It is very important for people to take of their skin in the sun. It is also important for them to keep an eye on their skin and seek medical opinion if they see any changes.

“Melanoma is often detected on men’s backs and women’s legs, but can appear on any part of the body,” he added.  

Banwell said he is on a “personal mission” to improve education for beauty therapists on skin cancers and how to spot them in clients.  

“Beauty therapists are in a good position to improve recognition of lesions, so I believe with the right education and support, they have an important role to play,” he said.