Melanoma: catching and curing skin cancer

FRESNO, Calif.

We love the sun and we can die from it! Every eight minutes someone in the United States will be diagnosed with melanoma.

"Your mind goes all different places, like how is this going to affect my life?" Megan Brinker, a melanoma survivor.

Megan Brinker was told she had stage one melanoma.

"It wasn't anything that looked to me like it was really bad or anything," Megan said.

Early detection was key. Studies show if caught early melanoma can be stopped it its tracks, and now surgery to find it is going 3D.

"Using our technology, we can see the tumor as well as the surrounding blood vessels," Younan Xia, Ph.D., a biomedical engineer at Georgia Tech explained.

Photoacoustic tomography uses laser light and sound waves to create a 3D image of the cancer inside the body. Tiny gold nanocages show a contrast between malignant and normal tissue. For more aggressive melanoma, doctors are testing a new compound that triggers cancer cells to self-destruct.

"What we manage to do is trick them into thinking they are being attacked or infected by a virus," Maria Soengas, a dermatologist at the Spanish National Cancer Center Research Institute in Madrid, Spain, said.

Megan was one of the lucky ones. She's not one of the ten-thousand people melanoma kills every year. These two medical advances could catch and cure even more cases fast. Researchers believe the 3D imaging will be invaluable for detecting and treating a variety of cancers, including breast and prostate cancers.

If you would like more information, please contact:
Lihong Wang, Ph.D.
Department of Biomedical Engineering (Primary)
Washington University in St. Louis

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