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Identifying Skin Cancer With Light

Duke University scientists have been successfully testing a new laser system they developed to identify cancerous skin moles. Two lasers in the system are used to identify the presence of eumelanin in biopsy slices and a future version of the device may work directly without having to sample the mole. According to an article in Science Translational Medicine, “the ratio of eumelanin to pheomelanin captured all investigated melanomas but excluded three-quarters of dysplastic nevi and all benign dermal nevi.” From the press release:

The tool probes skin cells using two lasers to pump small amounts of energy, less than that of a laser pointer, into a suspicious mole. Scientists analyze the way the energy redistributes in the skin cells to pinpoint the microscopic locations of different skin pigments.

The Duke team imaged 42 skin slices with the new tool. The images show that melanomas tend to have more eumelanin, a kind of skin pigment, than healthy tissue. Using the amount of eumelanin as a diagnostic criterion, the team used the tool to correctly identify all eleven melanoma samples in the study.

The technique will be further tested using thousands of archived skin slices. Studying old samples will verify whether the new technique can identify changes in moles that eventually did become cancerous.

fig2_280a.jpg

Malignant melanoma under the new laser light. Clear deposits of eumelanin (red) appear in unhealthy tissue.

Press release: Lasers ID Deadly Skin Cancer Better than Doctors …

Abstract in Science Translational Medicine: Pump-Probe Imaging Differentiates Melanoma from Melanocytic Nevi

Flashback: Diagnosing Skin Cancers with Light, Not Scalpels

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

A Dermatology Visit: 10 Tips To Get The Most Out Of It

Having a high-quality doctor’s visit takes effort on your doctor’s and yours. Here are 10 tips to get the most out of your next visit with a dermatologist:

1. Write down all the questions you have and things you want to discuss with me. Be sure to list any spots you’d like me to check or any moles that have changed. Have a loved one lightly mark spots on your skin they are concerned about.

2. Know your family history: Has anyone in your family had skin cancer? What type? Patients often have no idea if their parents have had melanoma. It matters. If possible, ask before seeing me.

3. Know your history well: Have you had skin cancer? What type? If you have had melanoma, then bring the detailed information about your cancer. Your prognosis depends on how serious the melanoma was, that is its stage, 1-4. You need to know how it was treated, if it had spread, and how deep it was. The answers to these questions determines the risk of your melanoma returning. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Dermatology Blog*

A Skin Cancer-Detecting Camera?

Yanko, the design blog we highlight occasionally, shows us a device design by Antonia Haaf meant to automatically detect melanoma, called Black Skin Cancer.

Details are vague, as they usually are with concept designs, but the device is meant to be placed over a suspected legion and “[analyze] 2D and 3D characteristics from melanocytic lesions with just one shot. Using a secret algorithm, the device recognizes critical lesions such as the nodular melanome.”

While pretty, commenter Widepers on the site points out: “Frankly, a magnifying glass and the skin doctor’s email might do the trick just as well.”

Yanko Designs: Detector VS Black Skin Cancer

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

All About Skin Cancer

The entire March issue of Archives of Dermatology appears to be dedicated to skin cancer — melanoma and non-melanoma. 

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) represents 65% to 75% of all skin cancers. Most occur on sun-exposed parts of the face, ears, scalp, shoulders, and back. Intense short-term UVB exposure is important in the formation of BCC. Clinical features include pearly translucent flesh-colored papules or nodules with superficial telangiectasias (broken blood vessels). More active lesions may have rolled edges or ulcerated centers.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) represent 30% to 65% of all cutaneous malignancies.  SCCs are most attributable to UVB exposure, long-term or accumulative exposure over years. Clinical features include crusted papules and plaques that may become indurated, nodular, or ulcerated. SCC may arise in chronic wounds, scars, and leg ulcers. Recurrent SCC development within 3 years is 18%, a 10-fold higher incidence compared with initial SCC diagnosis in the general population.

Malignant melanoma (MM) represents the most serious of all cutaneous malignancies. It is estimated that approximately 65% to 90% are caused by UV exposure, predominantly UVA. Roughly 10% of all melanoma cases are strictly hereditary. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

Book Review: FDR’s Deadly Secret (Malignant Melanoma)

Earlier today I wrote a short article which resulted in correspondence with one of the authors of the new book, ‘FDR’s Deadly Secret’ by Steven Lomazow and Eric Fettmann.

Dr. Steven Lomazow sent me a copy of his Archives of Dermatology article with Dr. Bernard Ackerman, this photo, and a pdf of his book which I have spent the afternoon reading.

The article goes through a series of photos of FDR from his younger days to his older ones, showing the progression and changes. From the article: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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