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New skin cancer screening device

There’s a new medical break-through in cancer research. The FDA approved a screening device, the first of its kind, for skin cancer.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - There’s a new medical break-through in cancer research. The FDA approved a screening device, the first of its kind, for skin cancer.

MelaFind, the latest screening device, uses light making detailed, digital images of skin growths to help doctors catch cancer faster. Dermatologists will soon be using the high-tech device to help decide which suspicious-looking moles should be removed and checked for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Dr. Gregory Dwyer, a dermatologist at the Little Rock Dermatology Clinic, is familiar with the device and knows someone involved with the research. "What it does is emit a light that penetrates the skin and takes multi-color images. A computer analyses those images and compares them to known images of melanoma, and then makes a suggestion whether a biopsy is needed."

MelaFind offers a sort of second opinion to doctors to better serve the more than 70,000 people in the U.S who will be diagnosed with melanoma this year. It's an alarming number for dermatologists who are seeing an increase in cases. The good news is more people are aware of the risks of skin cancer, so they're catching it quicker and curing it.

Michelle Woods takes her skin health very seriously. "My dad had skin cancer on his ear, so it's definitely something I worry about."

Dr. Appathurai Balamurugan has been researching melanoma for the last few years. He says this is a step forward to paving the way for innovation in cancer research. "Early detection is the key to preventing deaths in people with melanoma, and now with improved technology, we have more curative treatments for melanoma. People survive longer if they are detected earlier."

Dermatologists say it is early to tell whether MelaFind will lead to fewer biopsies, and the device is only good for certain lesions, so dermatologists will still have to make that determination themselves. MelaFind is only being released to 200 dermatologists initially for training purposes, and it's not cheap. Doctors will have to pay nearly $8,000 to lease the device, and patients will have to pay out of pocket as it'll take several years before insurance plans cover the cost.
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