New skin cancer treatment technology - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/8/09

New skin cancer treatment technology

By Cassie Hataway | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A few months ago HealthWise followed John Robison to the dermatologist to check a pearly bump on his cheek.  The doctor was concerned and did a biopsy, scraping off a tiny piece to send it off to the lab.  John is just fine now because they got rid of that spot in the earliest stages, before it became a deadly cancer.

Now, at Duke University, they are using a laser scope to see through the skin and spot killer cells.  This latest technology is still under review, but if the pilot turns out as scientists hope; it could mean the end of scraping the skin to do a biopsy for skin cancer.  With the high-tech microscope, Dr. Kelly Nelson does not just look over a patient's skin, she looks through it.  The scope is called the ‘Confocal' and it uses laser light to see blood vessels and cells in real time.  Therefore, instead of cutting any tissue it provides a "virtual biopsy".  Duke dermatologist Kelly Nelson, M.D., says, "The ability to look into the skin without interfering with it is truly cutting edge". 

More testing needs to be done to determine if this innovative technology can measure up to the standard scalpel biopsy.  However, researchers are excited that this could mean fewer cuts in the future for patients like John and the millions of others who are diagnosed every year with skin cancer.

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