‘The hairdresser saw the stain and made me aware of cancer’

  • André Biernath – @andre_biernath
  • From BBC News Brazil in London

Credit, Getty Images

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Stains and blemishes that appear on the scalp may be signs of melanoma

When you go for a haircut, the conversation in the salon is expected to revolve around light and mundane topics, such as the football game, celebrity gossip or current news. In 2018, though, I almost jumped out of the chair when my hairdresser said to me, “You may have cancer.”

While messing with and cutting my hair, he noticed a suspicious spot (similar to the picture that opens this article) under some strands of hair, near the right ear. In his assessment, it was a typical sign of melanoma, a tumor that affects the skin and is usually aggressive.

As a well-prepared health journalist accustomed to reading and writing a lot on the subject, I decided to schedule a dermatological consultation the same week. In fact, the warning made sense: that spot on my head could actually be a tumor. There was even an indication to remove it during surgery and send the material for biopsy.

I went through the whole procedure of anesthesia and hospitalization, and luckily the result of the laboratory analysis showed that it was a benign change that was not related to anything more serious. Still, the doctors suggested that I have a follow-up every year to measure the size of other spots and birthmarks I have all over my body – if they grow, they may need to be removed as well.

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