Listen up sun worshipers. Skin cancer accounts for 80 percent of all new cancers in the U.S. It is preventable and if caught early it is curable.
Now doctors' have a new way to find it, before it is too late, thanks to a device the Cleveland Clinic has named one of its top medical innovations of 2013.
Soaking up some rays can be fun, or fatal. Doctor Mark Nestor says catching skin cancer early is key.
"When it is caught early, it's virtually 100 percent curable; when it's caught late, it will kill you," explains Mark S. Nestor, MD, PhD, Voluntary Associate Professor with the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery at the University Of Miami Leonard Miller School Of Medicine.
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 want to do primarily is never miss anything," says Dr. Nestor.
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," explains Dr. Nestor.
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," says Dr. Nestor.
In studies, Melafind was 98 percent accurate in predicting melanoma and reduced unnecessary biopsies by 90 percent.
"We are determining visually in a much better way," says Dr. Nestor.
Helping to catch cancerous moles before they kill can you.
Melafind is being used in a few hundred sites across the country. Each session costs $150 to $200 and it is not covered by insurance.
MELAFIND: THE CANCER SCANNER
BACKGROUND: Skin cancer is extremely common and will typically appear on areas of the skin exposed to sun, although skin cancer can also develop in areas that hardly or never are touched by sunlight. Skin cancer has three main types: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma; there are also a few uncommon types of skin cancer such as Kaposi sarcoma. (Source: www.mayoclinic.com) Each year there are about 2 million cases of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma found in the United States. Melanoma is the most serious out of the three, but is also less common with an estimated 75,000 cases of melanoma in 2012. (Source: www.cancer.org)
RISK FACTORS: Certain factors place people at a higher risk of developing skin cancer. These risk factors include:
1. Fair skin and hair - People with light colored skin and blond or red hair may have less pigment in their skin, meaning less protection from ultraviolet rays.
2. Excessive sun exposure - Spending a lot of time in the sun without sunscreen or other protection can increase your risk of skin cancer; tanning beds can also increase this risk.
3. Family history of skin cancer - Sometimes your genes can play a role in your risk of skin cancer, so if immediate family members had skin cancer it may mean you have a higher risk as well.
4. Moles - Large or abnormal moles are more likely than others to become cancerous, so if you naturally have a lot of them this could increase your risk of skin cancer. (Source: www.mayoclinic.com)
PREVENT SKIN CANCER: The best ways to prevent skin cancer are to protect your skin when going outside in the sun. Using sunscreen, hats, or covering up when you know you will be in the sun for long periods of time is important for avoiding skin cancer. People should also avoid using tanning beds since the UV rays increase the risk of skin cancer, especially if they are fair skinned. Finally, regularly check your skin for abnormal skin lesions or moles and go to your doctor if there are any concerns.
MELAFIND: The new device called MelaFind will help doctors detect melanoma by using a handheld attachment around the size of a blow dryer that emits a light which goes below the surface of the skin and takes multicolored images to show the depth and shape of moles and/or other skin growths. In a study involving 1,300 patients, the new device correctly identified 10% of non-cancerous growths compared to doctors who only correctly identified them about four percent of the time. Currently the device is only FDA approved for use by dermatologists on skin growths that do not have obvious signs of cancer. (Source: www.huffingtonpost.com)
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