(01/17/13) - It is being called one of the top medical innovations of 2013 - a
device that detects deadly skin cancers. The little scanner that may spare some
people from a date with the scalpel is getting rave reviews from the Cleveland
Clinic, among others. It can catch melanoma in its early stages, which
ultimately could mean thousands of lives saved.
Dr. Mark Nestor, of the University of Miami, says catching skin cancer early is key. "When it's caught early, it's virtually 100 percent curable. When it's caught late, it will kill you."
Detecting melanoma can be tricky. While some cancerous moles can be easy to spot, many others - that are just starting to become dangerous - are not.
"What we wanna do primarily is never miss anything," Nestor says.
But now a new, FDA-approved tool is giving doctors the upper hand. "The idea here is to have the tools necessary to be able to tell whether or not we should biopsy a legion."
Melafind uses a scanner that emits ten unique wavelengths of light to analyze the various aspects of the mole. In just a minute, it displays a 3D image of the mole and rates its disorganization as high or low.
"This is the first type of computerized diagnostic aid in this realm that has ever been approved by the FDA," Nestor says.
In studies, Melafind was 98 percent accurate in predicting melanoma and reduced unnecessary biopsies by 90 percent. Melafind is being used in a few hundred sites across the country. Each session costs $150-200, and it's not yet covered by insurance.
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