By Staff Reports
(DGIwire) — How well do we know our own skin? Beyond our hands and faces, which we look at every day, how many of us know what the skin looks like on the back and inside of our arms, behind our backs or the bottoms of our feet? With warm weather here, doctors are once again cautioning that now is the time to begin taking sun safety seriously—and to be consistently vigilant in examining ourselves to see what’s happening all over our bodies. That way, if a suspicious lesion appears or an existing mole begins to change, we can be immediately checked for the possibility of skin cancer.
Statistics underscore the importance of this medical advice: according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than two million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, with the highest number of new cases diagnosed during the summer months. One in five Americans will get some kind of skin cancer in their lifetime. Further, more than 76,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma annually. This is the most deadly form of skin cancer; more than 9,000 die from it, often within a year of diagnosis.
That’s why it is so is vital for everyone to perform regular self-exams to look for growths, changes or any unusual marks that could be a sign of skin cancer. A skin self-examination consists of looking over one’s entire body, including the back, scalp, soles, between the toes and on the palms. To do a thorough skin exam, find a well-lit location and use both full-length and hand-held mirrors so it is possible to see the back of the head, back and buttocks.
The good news is even the deadliest form of skin cancer can be treated before it spreads. According to the Karolinska Institute, the survival rate for thin cutaneous malignant melanoma caught early is almost 90 percent. But for patients with advanced disease at the time of diagnosis, the prognosis is much worse.
This reality underscores why the pioneering technologies of Boston and Rochester-based Caliber Imaging & Diagnostics (Caliber ID) have never been more important. Caliber I.D. has created confocal microscopy devices called VivaScope®. When doctors perform a VivaScan, the device takes pictures of an entire lesion layer by layer, which can help medical professionals to diagnose most skin diseases and disorders. Since there is no cutting involved, there is also no possibility of infection or scarring. Obtaining an image takes just a few minutes so the doctor can make a determination at the bedside, or the image can be transferred within minutes through the company’s VivaNet® system, so that a pathologist can diagnose it remotely.
L. Michael Hone, Chief Executive Officer of Caliber I.D., says, “An alarming number of cases of skin cancers are diagnosed each year. Fortunately, when in its earliest stages, it is treatable. Skin self-exams and screenings are important ways to detect the early warning signs of skin cancer. We view our non-invasive VivaScope system as having benefits that will motivate more people to get themselves checked.”