May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Beyond your mother nagging you to death to apply sunscreen before you brave the great outdoors, it’s nice to know that there have been many advancements in the field of skin cancer detection. The level of awareness for the disease has skyrocketed within the last generation alone. I still have visions, from my childhood, of my father sitting on a lounge chair, covered in Johnson & Johnson’s baby oil, holding a bright yellow sun visor inches from his face to maximize his exposure to the sun. Whereas today, I apply SPF 30 sunscreen before I slip into my bikini to ensure that I don’t miss an inch on my face or body. I also apply an SPF hair mask and wear sunglasses as both your scalp and eyes can burn and are not immune to Melanoma either. Ocular Melanoma can present as a freckle within the eye.
But let’s go beyond the sunscreen
It’s critical to visit a board certified dermatologist for an annual skin screening and not only if you fall into the high risk group of those with light skin, eyes and a family history of skin cancer. It’s crucial that everyone go. Often, those with dark skin and eyes assume they are immune from skin cancer and wind up with serious issues down the road due to a lack of screenings and late detection. But don’t go to see a derm only because 1 in 5 Americans will have skin cancer in their lifetime, nor because Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, causes one death every hour. And not only because it’s the most common cancer diagnosis in adults 25 – 29. And certainly not only because children that have experienced 5+ sun burns in their lives are 80% more likely to develop skin cancer, nor because each year there are more instances of skin cancer than lung, breast and colon cancer combined. You must go because this is an easy one to prevent.
A technological leap forward in skin screening
Until recently the protocol for conducting skin screenings was a manual, imperfect process. Even with the expertise of a highly-skilled, board certified dermatologist armed with the appropriate screening tools, a manual process left physicians piecing together notes from the year before with no standardized method for tracking changes in the skin over time.
Enter DermSpectra, a revolutionary new breakthrough in technology that has standardized the skin screening process with digital imaging capable of tracking even the most minute of changes in the skin over time. When it comes to skin cancer, picking up the smallest change in a mole or growth can mean the difference between life and death.
Your 10 minutes of fame
DermSpectra, or The Box, as Dr. Mitchell Kline, a board certified clinical dermatologist who specializes in Melanoma surgery and staging, lovingly calls it, uses high speed, professionally focused cameras and lenses, customized for the patient’s skin type, to capture a 360 degree view of the skin in its entirety. Its akin to E! Live’s 360 degree camera used on the red carpet at The Oscars to give us a virtually 3 dimensional view of the haute couture fashions that the the A list actors are dressed in. DermSpectra is the very first full body digital imaging system in the United States that captures standardized, high definition photography of the skin. This imaging tool enables physicians to objectively review and monitor critical skin changes over time.
How does it work?
You strip down to your underoos at the very least – if you feel at ease bearing more – even better! Melanoma can pop up in the least expected of areas, even in places where the sun don’t shine. Climb into the DermSpectra Imaging Unit and move through a series of 9 poses while dozens of cameras capture 36.7 MP high resolution photos of the body from a 360 degree vantage point. These images are instantly available and become a baseline for the long term evaluation and tracking of even the smallest changes in the skin over time. All the information is stored securely for the patient’s and physician’s eyes only.
DermSpectra can only be found in three locations in The United States – at Travel Beauty’s go to dermatologist, Dr. Mitchell Kline’s Park Avenue practice on the upper east side of Manhattan, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland and Oregon Health and Science University in Portland Oregon.
So what are you waiting for?
By: Alyssa Barrie Weiss, Twitter: @AlyssaBarrie