MelaFind® is a newly FDA approved device that can help in the identification of high risk skin lesions. Marietta Dermatology and the Skin Cancer Center was the first practice in Georgia to offer this technology to our patients.
As discussed below, one of the “tools” to help in early melanoma detection is a yearly full skin exam. During an exam, if an unusual appearing lesion is identified (or a patient identifies a lesion they suspect has changed), we can now use the MelaFind® to look deeper in to the skin to see if there is disorganization or irregularities that may be signs of a lesion at higher risk of being melanoma.
See videos below that explain MelaFind® .
Although all skin lesions are not appropriate for screening with the MelaFind®, many suspicious lesions can be analyzed and determined to be appropriate for watching or cut off for a biopsy. Traditionally the only way dermatologists could obtain deeper information on the underlying pigmented lesions involved cutting off the lesion and submitting to a pathologist for evaluation. This new tool uses different wavelengths of light to look 2.5 millimeters in to the skin to see if a biopsy or excision is necessary. So there are times that we can now avoid cutting of a lesion and in doing so obviously reduce scars.
MelaFind® is approved for use only by dermatologists. MelaFind® also requires additional FDA mandated training to ensure proper use. Although it is FDA approved the MelaFind® scans are not currently covered by insurance. At Marietta Dermatology and the Skin Cancer Center, we currently charge a nominal fee of $125.00 for the service.
Marietta Dermatology and the Skin Cancer Center is a comprehensive dermatology medical center. With 11 physicians and seven physician assistants we have the ability to address almost any dermatologic need of our patients. Within the practice’s three locations, we have providers trained in general and surgical dermatology to take care of skin cancer, rashes such as eczema and psoriasis, acne and cosmetic concerns along with other diseases of the skin. For patients with more advanced skin cancers and those in cosmetic sensitive areas or areas of high recurrence, our Mohs surgeon Dr. Jared Friedman in conjunction with facial plastic surgeon Seth Yellin, MD offer a unique ability to address the removal and reconstruction of these malignancies.
“I’ve been watching a mole of my own for the last few months. I’ve wondered about it… to biopsy or not to biopsy. I put the MelaFind® scanner on my mole. It was quick and painless. In less than a minute, this dermatologic analysis system had information on my mole. The screen read ‘low disorganization,’ meaning that the cells in the mole were fairly well behaved. I was relieved. I didn’t have to biopsy it and could continue to watch it for changes.”
— Dr. Elizabeth Richwine
As skin cancer incidence increases, dermatologists encourage patients to help prevent skin cancer by avoiding excessive exposure to ultraviolet light. The mainstay of prevention is the use of broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 for everyday use and SPF 30 for extended sun exposure. Avoidance of artificial UV light by staying away from the tanning beds is also important.
Three types of skin cancer constitute the majority of cutaneous malignancies, basal cell and squamous cell (grouped together as nonmelanoma skin cancer-NMSC) and malignant melanoma. The incidence off all skin cancers is increasing rapidly with an estimated 300 percent increase in nonmelanoma skin cancers. Malignant melanoma, although less frequent in occurrence, is also on the rise. In the United States the lifetime risk to be diagnosed with melanoma is 1 in 50. Melanoma when not caught in it’s early stages has a very high risk of spreading throughout the body and causing death with five-year survival rates of 15-60%. When caught early the success in treating melanoma results in a survival of over 98% over five years. Although patients with fair skin and light colored eyes with multiple moles are at greatest risk, there are no skin types from the lightest to the darkest that are immune to melanoma.
With such a great disparity in the survival rates from early thin melanomas to thick metastatic melanomas, dermatologists are always wanting to catch the melanoma as early as possible. Regular self exams to look for the tell tale ABCDE of melanoma. Yearly screenings by dermatologic providers trained to detect suspicious lesions are also important.