On Wednesday the Federal Drug Administration approved the pre-market approval application for MelaFind, an apparatus that takes digital images of skin growths and uses a computer to analyze them for signs of cancer.
The news was welcomed by dermatologists across the country. “Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and rates of the disease are on the rise…” said Susan Weinkle, MD and president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, “Early detection is our only chance for survival, and MelaFind has the potential to have a deep impact on this disease.”
MelaFind is meant to help dermatologists choose which skin growths to biopsy, but it is not meant to replace dermatologists. According to Fox News, the machine is supposed to provide a sort of “second opinion” in the diagnosis of skin diseases. MelaFind’s second opinion power is considerable: in a study published last year, Melafind “correctly suggested biopsies on 125 of 127 melanomas that doctors had removed.”
The news is good, but it will be some time before MelaFind will be in wide use. According to Fox News, there will only be 200 of the machines in use on the East coast, and those who want the scan will have to pay $150 out of pocket. Doctors eager to use the machine will have to take a course in how to use MelaFind.
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