This week the the Food and Drug Administration approved a new tool to help doctors analyze skin growths for signs of skin cancer. MelaFind is expected to make its way into doctors’ offices early next year.
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer with rates of the disease increasing, especially in young women. Early detection is key to combatting the disease and with this week’s FDA approval of the pre-market application for MelaFind, experts believe that we are headed in a positive direction.
“MelaFind is a groundbreaking technology and represents one of the most significant advances in early melanoma detection since the advent of the ABCD criteria that our group developed over a quarter century ago,” said Darrell S. Rigel, MD, Clinical Professor of Dermatology at New York University Medical School. “While there have been incremental improvements in imaging tools for melanoma detection, we still primarily rely on our eyes, experience and judgment. MelaFind provides objective information about indeterminate pigmented skin lesions to help us when deciding which lesions to biopsy to detect melanoma as early as possible when it can still be cured.”
Once MelaFind becomes available, it will first be placed in a limited number of “high volume” dermatology practices that will have to undergo proper training. Dermatologists are not yet able to determine if MelaFind will help to eliminate unnecessary biopsies. The handheld scanner and computer program are not without flaws–including a high-false positive rate, as reported in trials. Regardless, many agree the technology is a step in the right direction for detecting the deadly disease as early as possible.
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