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Your Healthy Family: 3-D Skin cancer scanner

Posted at 8:42 AM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 11:01:38-04

NEW YORK CITY — In today's Your Healthy Family, many people love to soak up the summer sun, but this is also a great time to remind you about the dangers of the sun. Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States and early detection is key to a positive outcome.

Besides having annual skin checks from a qualified dermatologist there's also some new technology that can help doctors and patients keep a close eye on the health of someone’s skin.

It’s a 3-D body scanner that looks almost out of this world. It's almost the size of an exam room allowing a patient to step inside - typically naked. Then the machine takes multiple photos of every inch of your body.

Stephen Palmese says, “It's pretty quick and painless. You get to stare at yourself after and see all of you. Some of the parts you've seen before and some you haven't seen before because every angle is captured."

Stephen gets a skin scan every six months. He has plenty of incentive because a few years ago, a scan detected a melanoma.

Stephen says "I Can't say that when my doctor told me that I was overly surprised." Stephen says he wasn't shocked for a few reasons. Skin cancer runs in Stephen’s family, and his doctor, Dr. Anthony Rossi with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, happens to be his best friend.

Dr. Rossi says, “He (Stephen) was coming to me to monitor his moles over time, and we noticed that this one was new and it had changed."

The 3-D total body photograph of Stephen identified the cancerous mole on his right thigh. The images showed Stephen's cancerous mole was stage zero. The American Cancer Society says melanoma accounts for only one percent of skin cancers, but it causes a large majority of skin cancer deaths. The research body says this year, U.S. physicians will diagnose nearly 100,000 new melanomas. More cases in men than women and less than 8,000 people will die from it - again more of them will be men than women.

Dr. Rossi says, “By having photos of your body and of your moles, we can actually say at this point in time, this looked like this, but now it's either changed, gotten larger, become darker, or has added colors or irregular texture of size."

Stephen’s cancer was in a preexisting mole, but in many cases a melanoma can appear out of nowhere and then spread. Dr. Rossi says, “The thing with skin cancer is that if it's not caught early, it can continue to grow. It can invade deeper and in melanoma it can even spread through other parts of the body."

Stephen knows the cancer may come back so he won't let himself miss an appointment and is convinced this high-tech tool may have saved his life. Stephen says, “You know that you're taking care of yourself. Everyone should really be doing it as frequently as possible."

In the coming weeks as we settle into our sunny summer routines, I'm working on more stories about sunscreen, annual skin checks, and skin cancer. So be looking for those stories.