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LONE TREE (CBS4) – Every hour one person dies of melanoma in the United States. And every hour 15 more people are diagnosed with the disease. Now a Colorado dermatologist has state-of-the-art technology to spot suspicious moles early.
The new tool is especially valuable in Colorado with all the sunshine residents enjoy. It’s a painless scanner that uses a high-tech computer to analyze a mole, it doesn’t leave a scar, and most importantly it can find melanoma early — when it is curable.
Amanda Livermore is usually indoors all day, but the 24-year-old has always loved the sun.
“I always played soccer, was always active in sports outside,” Livermore said. “I loved tanning. I’d go probably three or four times a week.”
She now works for a dermatologist, and she’s also his patient.
“Her freckles show the sun damage on her skin,” Dr. Richard Ort with the Dermatology and Laser Institute of Colorado said.
Livermore recently had her yearly exam. Her sunning has led to a history of abnormal moles. But this time Ort scanned a few suspicious spots with the brand new high-tech tool called MelaFind.
“It’s really cutting edge technology and I think it will save lives,” Ort said.
MelaFind can detect potential melanomas. It takes a painless image of a mole deeper than the human eye can see with a 3D view.
“It analyzes it and it compares it to its internal data base of 10,000 other moles,” Ort said.
It shows Ort how irregular the mole is and gives it a number. The higher the number, the more worrisome.
“In this case it’s a borderline reading, so most likely we’ll chose to watch this mole,” Ort said.
MelaFind is a non-invasive, instant second opinion.
“It’s for those gray areas — the ones that we struggle with,” Ort said.
It can eliminate a needless biopsy.
“I have had two spots removed that were unnecessary, so I have scars now, so this would have been nice back then,” Livermore said.
“Melanoma, when it’s caught early, is almost always curable. But if it’s caught late, it’s deadly, so early detection is key,” Ort said.
Right now MelaFind is not covered by insurance. It costs $40 for the first mole and $25 for each additional.