Hair loss due to chemotherapy can be distressing
Hairdressers are to receive more training to help cancer patients deal with hair loss and re-growth.
My New Hair - a charity set up by celebrity hairdresser Trevor Sorbie - has received a government grant to advise on wig styling and hair care.
The programme also aims to give NHS staff and patients better advice on hair loss, which is a common side-effect of cancer treatment.
Since 2006 the charity has trained 180 hairdressers in "wig styling".
A study published in 2008 found that hair-loss is one of the most distressing side effects of cancer treatment and can often limit people in getting their life back to normal, such as returning to work.
The Department of Health has provided £86,500 to extend the programme to include nurse-led training for hairdressers in "aftercare" for patients whose hair is starting to grow back.
It will include education for hairdressers on the psychological implications of hair loss and how to deal with sensitivity issues surrounding wig styling for cancer patients.
Health Secretary Andy Burnham said more people than ever were surviving cancer.
"My New Hair is an innovative charity which targets one of the most obvious and distressing side-effects of cancer treatment."
Trevor Sorbie said hair loss was often the first outward sign that someone has cancer and it was important to help patients feel "normal" and confident.
"When they are ill and going through chemo it is even more important as a hairdresser to be sensitive and make them feel special.
"Patients suffering from cancer don't want to feel different they want to be able to go out and feel normal with hair that looks real and natural."
A spokesman for Breast Cancer Care, which also has a programme to advise patients on dealing with hair loss, said: "From the work we do with women affected by breast cancer we know that hair loss as a result of treatment causes great concern.
"Not only is it an external signifier they have cancer but it can also drastically affect their body image."
Mike Hobday from Macmillan Cancer Support, said the scheme was a "great idea".
"Losing their hair can have a really devastating impact on people going through cancer treatment."