Advanced technology to help detect skin cancer & avoid surgical procedure at UConn Health


It’s faded but you can see the scar on Joan Needle’s leg where doctors removed a mole – after she was diagnosed with melanoma — a type of skin cancer

Joan points out, “One day the spot was not there and the next day it was there.”  

At a recent exam by noted researcher and dermatologist Dr. Jane Grant-Kels at UConn Health — there was another suspicious spot.   

“It looked atypical but I wasn’t sure it wasn’t a melanoma,” explains Dr. Grant-Kels.

Another mole she says, shown in a magnified image, “You can see there is some variation in the brown coloration of the lesion that concerned me.” 

But this time there’s a new tool available demonstrated in this visit — to rule out undergoing a painful biopsy that can leave a scar. 

Dr. Grant-Kels says, “We want not to biopsy benign lesions, we would prefer to only biopsy malignant lesions.” 

“I said, anytime you’re not cutting, I’m happy,” says Joan. 

It’s the reflectance confocal microscopy and it visualizes skin cells deep into the cellular level.

Dr. Grant-Kels says,  “The laser is low energy and it doesn’t penetrate very deeply. “The laser is reflected back and the pixels are converted into images that allow us to see the skin on a cellular level.” 

The high tech resolution — eased Dr. Grant-Kels concern,  “These are all perfectly normal, “

Joan says,  “They found out it was a sunspot, so I was pleased.”

The technology is not covered by insurance. Dr. Grant-Kels is working hard to change that.

She says,  “This is not experimental. This is ready for prime time. It will save money and spare patients unnecessary biopsies.”    

Dr. Grant-Kels has teamed up with the American Academy of Dermatology to get the technology covered by insurance because she says skin cancer affects everybody.    

Joan Needle paid $212 for the procedure and results.

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