Innovative tool helps in early detection of melanoma - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Innovative tool helps in early detection of melanoma

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Melanoma is the one type of skin cancer that can be deadly when not found early. Now, doctors in Houston have a new tool to help detect it. The company, that invented MelaFind, even says The Cleveland Clinic named it one of the Top 10 Medical Innovations of the year. We talked to a local patient, with a history of melanoma, who sure is glad her doctor offers something called MelaFind.

Virginia Mary Brown is only in her 40's but has been diagnosed with melanoma five times.

"I found my first one (melanoma) after my fourth child, noticed a spot on my leg had been growing. A Dermatologist removed it and thought it was no big deal, but it turned out to be melanoma," says Virginia Mary. She was fairly surprised, because she didn't feel that she was at high risk of it.

"I wasn't a baker (in the sun) on silver mats, but I didn't wear sunscreen when out or playing sports, didn't even think about it," says Mary. She thinks about it now and constantly slathers herself and her children in sunscreen. She has also had multiple biopsies that turned out to be false alarms, but no more unnecessary surgery, thanks to this new FDA-approved invention called MelaFind.

Dr. Lucile White, who is a Dermatologist with DermSurgery Associates uses the device as a screening tool on her patients.

"It's a very high-tech camera with different wave lengths, that can image or assess moles 2mm below the skin depth - so 2mm deeper than what I can see with my eye," explains Dr. White. Another advantage: patients don't have to wait for results! Dr. White just takes a quick picture of the mole, then a few seconds later, she presents the results to her patient. Good news this time for Virginia Mary. "It came back a negative 2. That's a very low MelaFind number. It's a reassuring number!"

Dr. White wants everyone to know what to look for, when it comes to suspicious-looking moles. "They don't look perfectly round, they may be shaped like Virginia. They may have different colors in them. Ordinarily, these moles we'd biopsy immediately or follow every 3 months with exams," says Dr. White.

She and Virginia Mary hope to get the word out about how important it is to get skin checked. "Just go to the Dermatologist! They're not going to cut on you - they can look at you without cutting - everyone needs to go to the doctor and be checked," urges Virginia Mary. Dr. White says always be vigilant with sunscreen everyday, not just when the sun is shining bright and perform your own mole checks. Report any suspicious areas or changes to your doctor. Dr. White says MelaFind has been found to be 98% correct, so when still in doubt, she'll still perform a biopsy. At this point, MelaFind is not covered by insurance and costs about $25 per mole.

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