Duke dermatologists use several state-of-the-art methods to detect early melanomas and identify pre-cancerous moles to remove.
Mole-mapping CD-ROM technology, pioneered by Duke Cancer Institute skin cancer researchers and now used around the world, allows physicians to detect the earliest signs of melanoma by maintaining and monitoring photographic records of the skin.
Patients at high risk for melanoma -- those with numerous moles on their body, atypical (dysplastic) moles, or a family or personal history of melanoma -- may be photographed from 33 different angles to cover as much of the skin’s surface as possible.
On subsequent visits, the patient’s moles can be compared with the digital baseline images on the computer screen to discern any changes since the last exam.
Duke dermatologists also use dermoscopy and work with dermatopathologists who can study tissue biopsied from skin cancers.
Duke is one of only a handful of centers using a reflectance confocal microscope to diagnose and study melanoma.
The laser microscope lets clinicians and researchers look into the skin to a depth of about 0.4 mm to help determine if an area is skin cancer before a biopsy.
The tool also allows one to see the blood moving through blood vessels and to study tumors in real-time. There are approximately 30 confocal microscopes in use in the world. Learn more about confocal microscopy.
Learn how to make an appointment at the Duke Cancer Institute.