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New Technology Can Help Doctors Find Melanoma

26 February 2010

A new technology known as photoacoustics, or a laser-induced ultrasound is being developed by US researchers to help doctors identify the stage of a patients melanoma with more accuracy.

The new technology could help scientists locate the general area of the lymph node where melanoma cells could be residing, according to researchers at University of Missouri.

Using the photoacoustic method, a tabletop device scans a lymph node biopsy with laser pulses to examine the entire biopsy and identify the general area of the node that has cancer.

This new method can be used to determine if the cancer has spread from stage 2, where the melanoma is still just in the skin lesion, to stage 3, where the melanoma has spread to the lymph nodes.

This new technology could reduce the time it takes to locate the disease by identifying a general area of the lymph node that might contain cancer.

A simple procedure can remove the lesion, if the cancer is still at stage 2, however, if the cancer has reached the lymphatic region and possibly the bloodstream, doctors have to make serious decisions about patient care.

Reaching the lymphatic region means the cancer may have possibly spread to other organs, such as the liver, lungs or brain, researchers said.

The study Photoacoustic Detection of Melanoma Micrometastatis in Sentinel Lymph Nodes was published in the Journal of Biomedical Engineering.