Just last week, the FDA approved a computer-assisted device to detect melanoma. The device known as MelaFind is made by Mela Science Inc in Irvington, NY.
Melanoma is a deadly skin cancer and usually requires a skin biopsy to make a diagnosis. The incidence of melanoma has been increasing for the past two decades. In 2010, close to 68,000 Americans were diagnosed with malignant melanoma. So far, biopsy has been the only way to make a diagnosis of this deadly cancer. Unfortunately, skin biopsy of all suspicious lesions is not only costly but the majority turn out to be negative for cancer. Moreover, after surgery one is left with a scar that may not be aesthetically pleasing
However, the MelaFind was developed to scan the skin for lesions that look like a melanoma. With MelaFind the doctor can quickly scan the skin for early melanomas. If the device detects a suspicious lesion, a biopsy is performed
MelaFind has been evaluated in a large prospective clinical study and was found to be extremely sensitive in identifying early melanomas. When melanoma is diagnosed in its early stage, it is curable.
However, the ultimate decision to use MelaFind will rest between the doctor and the patient. However, some experts caution that that there will always be some skin lesions that will be missed by MelaFind, since melanomas can have many features that the machine may not be programmed to detect.
While a computer-aided device may save the patient surgery, how often to perform the scan is as yet undetermined. Finally, consumers can rest assured, that scanning with MelaFind will not be cheap.