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Stylist “Hairapists” Spotlight Disparities in Lung Cancer Screening

(NewsUSA)The best way to make an impact on members of a community is to enlist a trusted source.

Black Americans are more likely to develop and die from lung cancer than persons of any other racial or ethnic group, according to the Lung Cancer Foundation of America (LCFA). However, research shows that members of the African American community often mistrust the U.S. healthcare system.

Early screening is key to detection, prevention, and management of lung cancer. “The early detection of lung cancer allows for patients to have more treatment options and a far greater chance of survival,” according to the LCFA website. “As a result, the 5-year survival rate for those diagnosed before the cancer has spread rises from 18 out of every 100 people to 55 out of every 100,” according to LCFA, but many individuals in underserved areas miss the chance for early testing that could lead to better outcomes.

To help reach Black communities in underserved areas, the LCFA is enlisting the help of trusted local resource: the hair salon.

Hair salons have historically been one of the most accessible local businesses in underserved Black communities. Salons are often seen not only as successful sources of entrepreneurship, but as gathering places and community forums. Hairstylists are friends and confidants of their clientele, and are so trusted with personal information they often feel like “Hairapists.”

LCFA has developed a strategy to leverage the influence of hair salons to distribute valuable and potentially lifesaving information about lung cancer screening. The new initiative features a training video aimed at hairdressers that guides them in explaining the importance of screening, because people of color remain at an increased risk of developing and dying from lung cancer.

The LCFA recommends annual lung cancer screening for anyone who answers “yes” to three questions.

  • Are you between the ages of 50 and 80 years?
  • Do you have symptoms of lung cancer, such as coughing, chest pain, or shortness of breath?
  • Do you currently smoke or were you a smoker and quit?

Anyone who says yes to these questions meets the criteria for lung cancer screening, regardless of race, for recommended annual computed tomography (CT) screening. This non-invasive diagnostic test may be covered by Medicare and insurance companies.

For more information, visit LCFAmerica.org or text L-C-F-A to 41444.

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