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New cancer-detector in Sarasota

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Posted: Monday, May 6, 2013 5:02 pm | Updated: 4:41 pm, Wed Jul 3, 2013.

You may have noticed many people wearing orange clothing today, and for good reason.

Today is Melanoma Monday, a day to raise awareness about the deadliest form of skin cancer. Now, there is a new skin cancer detecting machine that's just arrived on the Suncoast.

Malignant Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer in the United States with a mortality rate of one person every hour, but there is a 98 percent cure rate if you find it early enough.

This minimally invasive diagnostic machine is so new that there is only one in our area, and it’s helping to diagnose melanoma at its earliest stage.

"It’s a scanner that basically takes a picture of the mole with a magnifying image it then goes through a different type of computer program to determine whether or not there may be things that are suspicious for melanoma," says David Sax M.D., Board Certified Dermatologist, University Park Dermatology.

In less than a minute, the Melafind device is able to analyze and provide information on whether a mole has irregular growth patterns under the skin or not. "It has a ninety eight percent sensitivity rate, so it’s able to pick up melanomas. That doesn't necessarily mean that everything that it finds is a melanoma, but it definitely can raise your suspicion level."

Patient Howard Markowitz has had several bouts with skin cancer, and on this day he decided to be proactive and have Melafind analyze a mole. "If it’s anything suspicious I think we should take care of it."

The FDA approved device is able to check more than 70 features and breaks down levels of disorganization not always seen with the naked eye. "The device is so new and revolutionary that I'd be surprised if more dermatology offices didn't get this," says Dr. Sax.

Melafind isn’t yet covered by insurance, so what is it going to cost you? "The cost to the patient is about $25 to scan, which most patients find to be negligible," says Dr. Sax.

As for Markowitz, his mole scan came back suspicious. Now he has a heads up on a potential problem, but, would he do it again? "Absolutely, it’s a no brainer."

Melafind is an additional tool that doctors can use to augment other tests for a more clear diagnosis, which lessens your risk of having unnecessary biopsies.

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