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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- A technology approved by theFDA last Novembergives a non-invasive look deep into the skin to detect skin cancers. It is starting show up in clinics across the US.

MelaFindis based on the same imaging technology used in guided-missile navigation systems. It scans deep below the skin's surface to take photographs much deeper than the eyes can see. It detect patterns that signal the very beginning stages of cancerous lesions.

Elizabeth L. Tanzi, M.D. ofWashington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery says, "I consider the Melafind a groundbreaking step in our detection of early melanoma. Before this device, there was nothing available non-invasively to give us this information this deep into the skin."

Locally, the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery is the first and only practice to use the MelaFind technology. It uses pattern recognition to compare what it sees to over 9,000 known melanoma in its database. It is then up to the dermatologist and the clinic to determine whether a biopsy is needed.

MelaFind is not covered by insurance and the out-of-pocket cost varies per clinic. Melanoma--most commonly seen in moles-- is the deadliest form of skin cancer, but it is easily treated if caught early.

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