New device helps detect melanoma early

8:01 AM, Aug 2, 2012   |    comments
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Melafind helps detect melanoma in its earliest stages.

POWDER SPRINGS, Ga. -- Kim Palmieri had concerns about two spots in her arm, but dermatologist Dr. Mark Knautz found two others that looked suspicious.

His office, Marietta Dermatology, is the first in Georgia to use a new device called Melafind to help detect skin cancer. 

"It's looking at the skin by cutting into the layers but not actually cutting in the skin," Dr. Knautz said. "It's using light technology to go down to the different layers to 2.5 millimeters in to the skin."

Melafind uses the same kind of imaging technology created by the military for guided missiles.

It detects melanoma in its earliest, most curable stages.

"If things look atypical, and it says 'yes,' then we're doing a good job," he said. "Every once in awhile, it might look at one and say 'no,' it's OK under the surface. It's one we can keep an eye on."

When Melafind clears a mole, the patient can avoid a biopsy and the scar that comes with cutting.

In Palmieri's case, Melafind cleared two but raised red flags about the two others.

"Ones that I would have never looked at, the tiniest ones, are the ones that are most concerning to him," she said. "A lot of times, patients, we don't know."

Dr. Knautz will have to go ahead with a biopsy, making an early, informed decision to keep his patient healthy.

Melafind was just approved by the FDA last year, so it's not covered by insurance.

At Marietta Dermatology, it costs $125 a session.

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