Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of the disease in the world, and doctors advise their patients to check constantly for unusual spots or discoloured areas that they may not have noticed before. Another set of eyes could be even more helpful in those hard-to-see areas, and could potentially even save your life - these heroes are your massage therapists.
Massage Therapists Can Flag it First
A new study, published by the "Journal of Cancer Education" in August, 2012, demonstrates that even non-medical professionals can help in checking for strange moles or lesions while doing their own work. Massage therapists see and feel large portions of their clients' skin, and many of these areas might not even be examined by their healthcare providers, like the scalp or soles of the feet. As a result, massage professionals are embracing a certain duty to better protect their clients and advise them to see a dermatologist when needed.
"While non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) accounts for the majority of cases, melanoma is responsible for more than 75 per cent of skin cancer deaths," the investigators of the report stated. "Between 1992 and 2004, melanoma incidence increased 45 per cent ... The back is the most common location of melanoma in men, while the lower legs are the most common location in women. Prognosis of melanomas is related to anatomic location. The 10-year survival rate for melanomas on the back is around 68 per cent while the 10-year survival rate for the lower legs is 82 per cent."
Learning How to Detect It
Because massage therapists can now anticipate taking on this responsibility, they should be comfortable with recognizing dangerous spots and identifying each as one particular type - basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or melanoma. Some common qualities that they should look out for include the colour, texture and size of the spot. If a client appears to have had more exposure to the sun, they could be more susceptible to developing skin cancer, as well as premature aging and wrinkles. While massage therapists cannot change the habits of their clients, they can advise them to take better precaution when stepping out into the sun and advise them to see a medical professional for more serious-looking sun spots.
Students who are interested in training for careers in Registered Massage Therapy can enroll in massage therapy courses at Vancouver Career College. For more information, fill out the form on the right.