When news happens, text LT and your photos and videos to 80360. Or contact us by email or phone.
Cutting edge East Lancashire scheme helps in skin cancer fight
8:59am Tuesday 5th March 2013 in News
TRAINEE hairdressers are being shown how to spot the early signs of skin cancer in a scheme which has won national recognition for an East Lancashire nurse.
Billy Hefferon, 45, has been running training sessions for young hairdressers and beauty therapists to explain the vital role they can play in fighting dangerous cancers such as melanoma.
The specialist nurse, who works at the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals, said the students would be in a unique position to spot skin cancer lesions on their clients, and could help get problems diagnosed more quickly.
The project was highly commended for an NHS Innovation Challenge Prize and Billy travelled to London for a glitzy ceremony last week, which was also attended by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Billy, who lives in Preston, said: “Hairdressers and beauty therapists have anecdotally spotted things for years but we wanted to formalise it and help them understand what they might see.
“They’re not expected to diagnose things but can point people in the right direction.”
The dad-of-two has already run four sessions at Preston colleges and now hopes to roll the scheme out in the Blackburn and Burnley areas.
He said: “It was very unusual but quite interesting for me. I was surprised how good their training is and how much knowledge they have.”
Currently there is no general screening programme in the UK for skin cancer, despite it being one of the most common types.
Many cases go undetected for years, meaning treatment is delayed and less effective.
n Skin cancer is caused by too much exposure to UV light from the sun or sunbeds, so most cases are preventable, though rates have been increasing in recent years.
People most at risk are those with fair, freckled skin and lots of moles. Signs to be aware of include changes to moles, such as itching, bleeding or changing shape or colour.
East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust sees about 2,500 new skin cancer patients each year, with about 80 suffering from malignant melanoma – the most harmful type of skin cancer.
Comments are closed on this article.