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Pain-free detection of skin cancer now possible

A new device dubbed Verisante Aura that just launched in Canada could help dermatologists save lives by determining whether or not a suspicious mole is melanoma in a matter of seconds. The best part: no pain, and no biopsy required.



Until now, a diagnosis of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has required a dermatologist examining moles to decide whether or not to biopsy. For patients whose melanoma isn't caught early, the life expectancy is less than a year, putting abundant pressure on doctors to get the diagnosis right, and right away.

Verisante Aura is held above a mole and uses a technique called Raman spectroscopy, which distinguishes the vibrational states of various molecules, picking up on concentrations of molecules characteristic of melanoma.

Developed by scientists at the British Columbia Cancer Agency, the device just received approval from Health Canada for sales in the country, the company announced Wednesday. Verisante also intends to pursue additional regulatory approvals in the EU and Australia by the end of the year. After that, it plans to pursue approval from the Food and Drug Administration in the US.

Another innovation in skin cancer detection is an iPhone app called FotoFinder, announced on Thursday. The new service allows doctors to upload photos with up to 20-fold magnification of suspicious moles to request a rating from international skin cancer experts, allowing patients access to expert opinions regardless of geography.

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