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  • e11ndofwar e11ndofwar Oct 2, 2012 2:49 PM Flag

    Concord’s Dr. Jorge Garcia-Zuazaga using new MelaFind to diagnose melanoma

    Thanks, that's a great article. I like this statement by the doctor...." but the manufacturer had a plan to introduce it on both coasts before bringing it here, they just weren't interested."
    The doctor persisted and now has a Melafind.
    If Mela was having trouble placing the devices as some here would have us believe, why would they not be interested in initially placing the unit with Dr. Zuazaga simply because he was not on one of the coast. Doesn't sound like a company desperate to make placements to me.
    regards endo

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    • After reading the article, AGREE Endo, sounds more like Derms are beginning to beg for the device.

      • 1 Reply to b767cpt1
      • samhasson Oct 2, 2012 6:55 PM Flag

        Concord’s Dr. Jorge Garcia-Zuazaga using new MelaFind to diagnose melanoma

        When. Dr. Jorge Garcia-Zuazaga learned that melanomarates were going through the roof, he began to search for tools that could better help him diagnose the presence of the deadly skin cancer. “It is the most common type of cancer for those 24 to 29,” he said, “and once a person is diagnosed, it’s likely to occur again.” Some of his patients have thousands of irregular moles and get them biopsied and removed on a regular basis, he said.

        He discovered the newly approved MelaFind, a device that uses technology that allows doctors to examine atypical moles several layers beneath the skin’s surface, so a positive diagnosis can be made before a biopsy is done.

        “But the manufacturer had a plan to introduce it on both coasts before bringing it here,” he said. “They just weren’t interested.”

        Then Garcia-Zuazaga attended a medical conference where he saw how the hand-held MelaFind worked and he became even more determined to make it part of his practice.

        “It works almost like a camera, and its uses 10 wavelengths of light to take three-dimensional photos as deep as 2.5 millimeters beneath the skin’s surface,” he said. “The data is then processed by a computer, which indicates the extent of the peculiar growth patterns beneath the skin.”

        During a skin exam, the doctor uses a dermotoscope to examine moles under strong light. He knows to look for moles that are asymmetrical, have uneven edges, multiple colors or arelarger than a pencil eraser. The doctor also knows that changes over time, a scar-like white appearance and a mole that looks different from other moles on the body can mean the mole is cancerous.

        It’s an educated judgment call, but it’s still a judgment call, and sometimes the doctor is mistaken. At times when the biopsy is done it is learned that melanoma is not present. At other times, perfectly normal looking moles can be those with melanoma.

        “This device is not for everyone — there are no cosmetic applications whatsoever,” he said. “But it analyzes more than 10,000 data points for melanoma and is 98 percent accurate.”

        It’s painless to be examined by a MelaFind and takes just a few minutes, although because it’s new, use of this diagnostic tool is not yet covered by health insurance.

        “But it’s a no-brainer for someone with a history of melanomas,” he said “We see some patients who have hundreds of moles and have had dozens of biopsies.”

        Garcia-Zuazaga said no other physician in Ohio has the MelaFind, which was delivered to his practice just a week ago. He’s examining moles on staff members to become familiar with its use.

        Garcia-Zuazaga plans to give a seminar aimed at primary care physicians to let them know about the diagnostic accuracy of the MelaFind.

        “I’m new in this area with my practice, but they’re starting to learn that I’m passionate about being on the leading edge of skin cancer diagnosis,” he said.

        Another thing he’s doing to take advantage of his newness is to guarantee an appointment within 72 hours to those who find a suspicious-looking spot. It’s sometimes a matter of a month or more before a patient can get in to see an established dermatologist, Garcia-Zuazaga said.

        “But because I don’t yet have a big practice, I can fit those folks in at the end of the day,” he said. “I don’t mind working late to give them a little peace of mind.”

        Sentiment: Strong Buy

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