Thanks to a new scanner, UZ Gent can now examine skin cancer much faster. Typically, a doctor will cut off a piece of a suspected area of skin, and it takes several weeks to see the results. Thanks to the new scanner, the patient knows within half an hour whether a spot is malignant.
Two Belgian hospitals already have a VivaScope 3000, a special microscope that allows skin cancer to be diagnosed without an injection. Moreover, the result is already known within half an hour.
The low threshold can be an important benefit as skin cancer appears to be becoming more common. It is the fastest growing cancer in our country. Almost 50,000 Belgians are diagnosed every year.
From two weeks to half an hour
In a traditional diagnosis, after an initial screening, the dermatologist takes a biopsy under anesthesia to examine the site. This is followed by a waiting period for the tissue to be analyzed in the laboratory. After one to two weeks you will receive a call with the diagnosis and a new appointment to discuss treatment.
The confocal laser scanning microscope eliminates the need for biopsy and waiting time. “I can diagnose in half an hour, explain it in detail and suggest a treatment plan if necessary,” says dermatologist Isabelle Hoorens. “In this way, I take away both the pain of the injection and the uncertainty from my patients.”
The new scanning microscope mainly focuses on the cells in the epidermis, the top layer of skin. The microscope scans the suspicious area on the skin with laser beams and immediately shows on the screen what exactly is going on with the cells. The specialist can quickly determine whether the tumor is malignant.
About 35 percent of all skin cancers are related to the technology. “The technique is also very useful for some very rare forms of skin cancer, such as extramammary Paget’s disease,” says Hoorens.
Source : HLN