It can start as a mole -- something you may see but you can't be sure whether it's a cancer. Now there's something new: a melanoma-finding camera.
Nancy Detmore survived melanoma skin cancer 20 years ago.
"I've been checked periodically. And my son was recently diagnosed but he is fine, it was removed as well," Detmore said.
But which mole will become cancer? That's a tough question. Now dermatologists are using a MelaFind, a new and specialized camera to help predict cancer.
"This machine will help us decide and maybe save a patient from having a biopsy," dermatologist Dr. Esta Kronberg said.
Moles that develop into melanoma are often dark, odd shaped, irregular color or big.
Genevieve Rivas had a mole cut out 10 years ago.
"That little mole became a huge scar that made me really self conscious," Rivas said.
Rivas doesn't want another scar, but she doesn't want cancer either. So when she became worried about another dark mole, she decided to have it, along with a third, small one, checked too. MelaFind found the dark mole was OK but not the small mole.
Dr. Kronberg did her own test of the MelaFind device. She compared the its results on 10 moles with a pathology report that came back from the lab.
"We found about 80 percent had pre-cancerous changes," Dr. Kronberg said. "It wasn't 100 percent accurate but it was pretty close, and it was very helpful in my decision making on moles that sometimes (I wonder), should we take them off or should we not."
It's another tool in deciding what will become melanoma and what won't.
"Living with it day after day and not realizing it's a bad mole and then if you could have a machine that could diagnose that it would be just wonderful," Detmore said.
The MelaFind picture costs an extra $25, but that is a lot less than a biopsy.