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FLOWER MOUND - Victoria Hill, 21, used to be a regular tanning bed user.

After she was diagnosed with melanoma, she's now a regular at the dermatologist.

It was really surprising, said Hill of the diagnosis, I never thought it would happen to me.

Every three months, she has new and changing freckles examined. However, instead of undergoing a biopsy, she is treated with a new, non-invasive device called MelaFind.

Her doctor, Dr. Mike McGuiness, uses MelaFind to scan deep below the skin's surface to evaluate skin lesions for melanoma.

We're now able to look underneath the skin without any cutting, explained McGuiness, of McGuiness Dermatology in Flower Mound, It just takes a picture with some light and it can tell us very accurately whether that mole needs to be biopsied or not.

The system compares a mole to a catalog of good and bad examples it has stored in its memory bank.

If it's a low score, it's very very unlikely to be a problem, McGuiness said. If it's a high score, it's more likely to be a problem.

Patti Dumont, 62, has already had four biopsies and doesn't want to be cut on anymore than necessary.

Two of which were cancers and two were not, she said of her last biopsies. So, at least it will help know which ones to go forward with.

Dumont was diagnosed with melanoma in April. She believes it's the result of tanning bed use 28 years ago.

Texas is now the fifth state to ban minors under 18 from using tanning beds. One in three Texans will develop some form of skin cancer and Texas ranks third in the nation for malignant melanoma, according to the Texas Medical Association.

McGuiness said the MelaFind technology is more than 90 percent accurate, though the tool is new and not widely used yet. It's not covered by insurance and costs about $30 a scan.

By comparison, a skin biopsy without insurance can cost about $250, but is considered the gold-standard for diagnosing skin cancer of any kind.

Because it does not require needs or cutting, MelaFind reduces the risk of infection that comes with a traditional biopsy.

For Hill, the technology also gives immediate peace of mind without waiting for test results.

You kind of leave knowing that it's OK and you don't have to have any surgeries, she said. For someone like me, this is going to be great.

You can check for dermatologists using MelaFind in your area at this link

Email jstjames@wfaa.com

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