Friday, December 16, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
70,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma this year. The most deadly form of skin cancer, it is without a doubt the most serious diagnosis I make in my practice. Caught in the early stages, it is very curable. Unfortunately, too many are diagnosed once it has spread to other parts of the body. 85% of patients with late stage melanoma will die from it within just 5 years.Melafind, a newly approved imaging and analysis device is a first-of-its-kind. It emits a penetrating light that travels below the skin’s surface and makes detailed, digital images. A computer then analyzes the depth and shape of skin growths and looks for signs of cancer. The results are compared to an archived database of 10,000 images and a recommendation is made on whether a biopsy is needed.
It is not uncommon for a patient to come in with 10 to 20 body moles. I currently rely on my years of training and experience to visually evaluate their size, shape, and color in determining which, if any, look suspicious and need to be biopsied. Some moles will exhibit easily recognizable signs of cancer; many however are not so obvious.
I am excited about this new, non-invasive technology. The system has proved highly effective in clinical trials. In a study of 1,300 patients, Melafind correctly suggested biopsies on 125 of 127 melanomas. It is not meant to replace biopsies, but to help improve a dermatologist’s ability to identify melanomas and reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies.
I think everyone should be aware of this new technology. I hope to bring it to the Upstate and that it will do for skin cancer what mammograms have done for the detection breast cancer.