Melanoma is a serious cancer, and one that isn’t always easy to spot. However, a new device called MelaFind uses imaging technology adapted from Defense Department target of interest identification programs to analyze irregular moles–and can even spot melanoma in its early stages. Currently available only in the northeast United States and Germany, the device is likely to change the way skin cancer is treated.
MelaFind, which was first made available to patients at the end of 2011, is a roughly five-foot-tall camera-computer-imaging system combo designed for deployment in medical offices and hospitals. In an in-person demonstration given to Co.Exist at the Manhattan offices of dermatologist Doris Day (yes, her real name), a camera-like handheld data acquisition unit based around a Zeiss lens system was positioned over a suspicious mole. A visible light was beamed over 10 varying wavelengths from a distance of approximately six inches; a series of proprietary algorithms then analyzed color, texture, and a host of other factors up to 2.5mm under the skin to search for irregular growth patterns. Within 60 seconds, the dermatologist (and patient) are alerted to whether or not the mole has a high level of irregular growth patterns. Dermatologists then have the option of biopsying or removing suspicious moles. MelaFind accurately detected melanoma at a 98% rate in clinical studies.