Medical student Mariah Katsiris co-launched a program that helps salon staff recognize signs of melanoma. (Photo: Submitted)
Medical student Mariah Katsiris co-launched a program that helps salon staff recognize signs of melanoma. (Photo: Submitted)

SLIDE training: Recognizing the signs of melanoma

Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer, and its incidence is on the rise. With May being Skin Cancer Awareness month in Canada, it has been at the top of my mind and a perfect opportunity to discuss something I am deeply passionate about.


As a medical student, I have witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of this disease, fueling my determination to find ways to prevent it. This passion led me to an idea. I was sitting in a chair with the fate of my hair at the mercy of my hairstylist, when I realized that instead of solely focusing on educating individuals about identifying skin cancer on themselves, why not educate hair stylists, who arguably look at more scalps than anybody else, how to recognize melanoma? This is how Suspicious Lesion Identification and Detection Education (SLIDE) Training was born. 

SLIDE Training is a unique program that brings medical students into salons to educate hair stylists, estheticians, registered massage therapists, and other professionals on recognizing the signs of melanoma. Knowing that I couldn’t tackle this endeavor alone, I enlisted the support of my colleagues, Lauren Fraess and McKenzie Van Eaton, who share the same passion for melanoma prevention and skin health. Our mission is to empower these professionals to detect suspicious moles or lesions on their clients' scalp, neck, and other hard-to-see areas. By catching melanoma early, we can increase the chances of successful treatment and save lives. 

Our methodology behind SLIDE Training is simple yet effective. We begin by visiting salons and delivering comprehensive but digestible information about melanoma and its risk factors. We then demonstrate how to perform a skin check on a model or a willing participant. We provide educational materials that salons can keep for their own reference, and we are working to create materials that can be distributed to patients. 

The primary outcome of the training we provide to these professionals is to enable them to recognize suspicious spots. It’s important to note that there is no diagnosing going on here. Instead, our goal is to empower these professionals to identify suspicious spots and encourage their clients to schedule an appointment with their family physician for further evaluation.

The response to our program has been overwhelmingly positive. Salon professionals have shown a great deal of interest in learning more about melanoma prevention, and expressing gratitude for the knowledge and skills we have imparted to them. Moreover, our program has raised awareness about the importance of regular skin checks - a crucial aspect of preventing melanoma. 

SLIDE Training is an innovative initiative that bridges the gap between medical education and the beauty industry. By educating salon professionals about melanoma prevention, we are taking an important step towards reducing the incidence of this deadly disease. Our program is a win-win for everyone involved – it empowers salon professionals and, most importantly, saves lives. We take immense pride in our work thus far and are eagerly anticipating expanding our program to more salons across Saskatchewan.

If you have any inquiries or wish to learn more about SLIDE Training, or if you’re a medical student interested in getting involved, please don’t hesitate to contact me at