FOTOFINDER MEDICAM 800

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The Fotofinder Medicam 800 HD is an innovative piece of equipment that is used in our clinic for digital dermoscopy.

This machine is the  gold standard for epiluminescence microscopy (dermoscopy) and the video documentation of a patient’s moles. It is a sophisticated diagnostic aid for the early detection of malignant melanoma (skin cancer). It employs the latest technology to enable rapid skin cancer screening and the long-term video documentation for follow up visits and analysis of any areas of concern. The high quality camera allows brilliant well lit dermoscopic videos and excellent magnified clinical images, whether of the whole back or individual fingernails, making the detection of suspicious skin lesions much easier. The highly detailed pictures can be seen straight away by both the dermatologist and the patient and can easily be compared to any previous images taken.

The mole mapping that can be carried out using this advanced piece of equipment is of extreme importance in achieving our goal of battling skin cancer. Early detection of any signs of skin cancer is paramount, as it is completely curable if diagnosed early enough, therefore accurate regular monitoring of moles is essential.

A melanoma is usually, but not always, a cancer of the skin. It begins in melanocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis  – the cells that produce the pigment melanin that colors the skin, hair and eyes. Melanocytes also form moles, where melanomas often develop. Melanomas often resemble moles; some develop from moles. The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white. Having many moles can be a risk factor for melanomas, but it’s important to remember that most moles do not become melanomas. Unlike other cancers, melanoma can often be seen on the skin, making it easier to detect in its early stages. When timely treatment is given to a patient suffering from skin cancer the outcome is very encouraging.  If left undetected, however, melanoma, which is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, triggers mutations that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors that can spread to distant sites or organs.

If melanoma is recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable, but if it is not, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body. Once melanoma has spread to other areas (known as stage IV), it is referred to as metatastic melanoma and at this point it becomes hard to treat  so the prognosis is very poor. In its later stages, melanoma most commonly spreads to the liver, lungs, bones and brain. Surprisingly, while it is not the most common of skin cancer, it causes the most deaths.

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Research suggests that approximately 90% of melanoma cases can be linked to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from natural or artificial sources, such as sunlight and indoor tanning beds. However, research has shown that since melanoma can occur in all melanocytes throughout the body, even those that are never exposed to the sun, UV light cannot be solely responsible. Current research points to a combination of family history, genetics and environmental factors that are also to blame.Taking steps to prevent melanoma is therefore the best first step in protecting yourself and your skin. It is important to learn about all of the risk factors.

People with a very fair complexion who do not tan easily are even more at risk of developing melanomas. especially if they suffer from severe sunburn in childhood. Those with more pigmentation, and therefore darker skin, have more natural protection from the sun. However, people with dark skin can still get skin cancer. Like light-skinned people, they should also be cautious of the sun and be examined periodically by a dermatologist. Melanoma is more common in those who are genetically predisposed to the disease. Generally speaking, people with a family history of skin cancer, as well as those with an unusually large number of moles, should be examined more regularly. Taking adequate precautions and following your dermatologist’s advice can make the difference between life and death.

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