Spotting skin cancers: a new accreditation for therapists

Sometimes it is interesting and humbling to look back on the twists and turns that lead to your involvement in things you are passionate about.

Many years ago, at the age of 21, I was on my last industry work placement at the end of my hair and beauty course. I was nervous but had a really helpful therapist overseeing my work. She let me practise on her Mum to help my confidence and I left two weeks later a much more accomplished beauty therapist.

I’ve gone on to have a long and successful career in this industry now, specialising as an Advanced Skincare Therapist and running my own clinic.

Over the 25 years I’ve been working with clients, I’ve spotted numerous lesions and moles that have turned out to be skin cancer or melanoma of some kind. I trained myself as much as possible in the different types of skin cancers, but always felt as an industry we needed a really trustworthy accreditation that could be accessible and come from a reliable source.

I had spoken to dermatologists and nurses about this but the medical world did not seem to have anything user friendly and I felt we needed to work towards more education and connection between us and our client’ GPs as, sadly, we are sometimes underestimated in terms of our knowledge and skills.

A few years ago, I sat at a dinner party next to a man who worked in finance. One of the ladies at the table asked my advice regarding her skin and much to my annoyance he answered her question about sunbeds very eloquently and with more knowledge than me. I was curious and he explained he was a Trustee for SKCIN, The Karen Clifford Skin Cancer Charity and he encouraged me to be an ambassador. So in 2016, I did.

What goes around…

The lady who had let me practise on her all those years earlier was Karen Clifford. Karen lost her fight with malignant melanoma and her husband Richard Clifford set the charity up in 2006. The family, with help from medical professionals, set out to fill the massive void that existed regarding skin cancer prevention and early detection in the UK. Since then this incredibly hardworking charity has strived to help save lives and educate high-at-risk target groups.

Fast forward to February 2018 and SKCIN have just launched MASCED (Melanoma and Skin Cancer Early Detection) which is a FREE online accreditation programme for hair, health and beauty industry professionals.

This free online training has been developed by SKCIN to equip us with the knowledge not to diagnose but to advise our clients when we see something that could be the early signs of melanoma and skin cancer. This is also open to physiotherapists, chiropodists, chiropractors, osteopaths  and anybody dealing regularly with their clients’ skin.

As industry professionals we are so well placed to notice changes or dubious moles and lesions on our clients. We see them regularly and we build great relationships with them. I also think we develop a real instinct for this type of thing that tells us something needs investigating.

This accreditation is a must for anyone who wants to advance their knowledge and equip themselves to potentially save lives. The vast majority of skin cancers are preventable but the disease remains the UK’s most common and fastest-rising cancer and ignorance regarding the early signs and symptom is widespread.

By taking the time to swot up on skin surveillance and identify suspicious lesions, we can detect early signs and prevent disfigurement, improve prognosis and, in the case of melanoma, prevent death.

To sign up visit the MASCED website – once registered you’ll receive free educational resources by post to help you swot up on skin cancer prevention and the detection of suspicious lesions, before taking the online accreditation e-course and gaining your certificate of accreditation.

With over 2,000 industry professionals already signed up and taking part prior to our official launch at Professional Beauty London, please share this information with any of your own health, beauty and hair professionals to spread the word and make them aware of this great opportunity.

Together, we can make a difference and save lives.

Louise Sumner

About Louise Sumner

I'm passionate about encouraging women to naturally enhance and embrace their individual beauty at every age. I am a beauty and skincare expert.