New tool to find skin cancer
PHILADELPHIA - May 6, 2013 (WPVI) -- Today is Melanoma Monday, a day to raise awareness about the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Doctors say the rate of melanoma is skyrocketing, particularly among young women.
But now there is a new FDA-approved device called MelaFind, which gives doctors a deeper look under the skin, to detect cancer earlier, when it is most treatable.
28-year-old Kirstyn Tomasini spent four years on the Sixers Dance team. Before and during that time, she spent hours laying out in the sun and doing indoor tanning.
Kirstyn says, "For me, personally I always felt when you are tan you look good, you feel better about yourself."
But tanning lead to changes seen in her skin moles, changes that dermatologist Dr. Coyle Connolly says could be melanoma.
"This particular mole is suspicious," he notes as he examined one of her moles.
Before, doctors had to rely on their eyes alone. But now they also have a new tool, MelaFind.
The device is placed on top of a questionable mole. Then MelaFind uses 10 different wavelengths of light to see up to 2 millimeters nder the skin.
The computer then analyzes the image.
"It's like having a second set of eyes," Dr. Connolly notes.
High disorganization in the image means there are abnormal cells.The mole may need to be removed and sent for a biopsy.
Melafind results are said to be 98 % accurate. Kirstyn says it gives gives her reassurance when deciding whether a mole needs to be removed or not.
I also had them test one of my moles./p>
It read Low-disorganization, which means it is highly unlikely to be melanoma.
Dr. Connolly says Melafind can also help watch a mole in question."We can do a baseline scan with melafind and then certainly follow up 6 months to a year and make sure there are no changes," he says.
As for tanning, Kirstyn now stays away from tanning beds, and tells others.
"You may feel good that you are tanner and have a darker color but ultimately it is so harmful," she says.
Right now, only about a handful of dermatologists in our area are using it. It's not fully covered by insurance yet.Click here to find local doctors with MelaFind.
Several hospitals in the area are offering free standard skin cancer screenings this week.
*Wed., May 8 - beginning at 5:30 p.m. Abington Memorial Hospital, Widener Building's Ambulatory Services Unit. Call 215-481-2204 to make an appointment.
Fri., May 10. 8 AM 11 AM. Mercy Cancer Center, 2701 DeKalb Pike, East Norriton. Call 610.278.2504 to make an appointment.
Sat., May 18. 8 AM to Noon. Penn Medicine Perelman Center. Appointments are necessary and space is limited. Call 662-2737 to make your reservation.
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