(NC)—With over 1,000 moles covering her body, Kim Ellis’ chance for early detection of melanoma is similar to finding a needle in a haystack on first glance. However, advances in medical technology have turned what was once a subjective “eyeball” evaluation into an objective, potentially life-saving scan.
In contrast to the standard and somewhat subjective visual inspection of moles by a dermatologist, the made-in-Canada Verisante Aura (verisante.com/aura) diagnostic device uses a light ray to help medical professionals make a biopsy decision in under a second.
Ellis recently had a scan by the device, which flagged a very subtle rose-coloured blemish for further investigation. What would have normally been bypassed was biopsied and found to be malignant. Ellis is soon to have the full lesion area removed.
“My skin lesion was barely visible,” she says. “My doctors and I have to keep a vigilant watch to be sure other malignancies don’t pop up. This new tool that quickly scans might have saved my life had the lesion been diagnosed as melanoma and could save more lives.”
This new technology, which is now in use at clinics across Canada, was developed in partnership between the BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, and the University of British Columbia over a 10-year period. Testing for the device took place at the Skin Care Centre at Vancouver General Hospital over a six-year clinical study. The results published last year in a peer-reviewed journal showed a significant advancement over current clinical diagnosis, demonstrating that the tool has a 99 per cent success rate of finding skin cancer.
According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in this country. It’s estimated that one in six Canadians will develop it during their lifetime.
“Early detection is key and underlines the need for technology that can screen for skin cancer quickly and accurately,” says Annette Cyr, the chair at Melanoma Network of Canada. Patients have a 99 per cent chance of survival when melanoma is diagnosed early; in late stages, it falls to 15 per cent.
“Aura represents a new paradigm in skin cancer detection,” she continues. “It is the first available device that takes an objective measurement almost immediately, significantly improving the chances of early detection and better health outcomes for patients.”