Melanoma Monday: what’s new in skin cancer

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S.

The first Monday in May this year isn’t just Cinco de Mayo – it’s also Melanoma Monday. The day kicks off the beginning of Skin Cancer Awareness Month, a national call to action against the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States.

Over two million people are diagnosed each year, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. In fact, the organization estimates that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point during their lifetime.

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, claiming one life an hour.

While highly aggressive, melanoma actually has an encouraging survival rate and is almost always curable if found early on. The American Cancer Society reports that the overall five-year survival rate for melanoma is 91 percent.

Basal and squamous cell cancers are non-melanomas that typically form on parts of the skin that receive sun exposure. It’s quite uncommon for this type of cancer to spread. 

A NEW BREAKTHROUGH

Removing cancerous skin through surgical excision is a common treatment option, especially if the disease has not yet spread. This type of procedure obviously leaves behind an open wound that requires stitches.

A new wound-closing device may help change that.

The ZipLine Surgical Skin Closure device can do the job of sutures in about half the time. It also reduces the risk of surgical site infection. In much the same way a ziplock bag works, the ZipLine “zips” up an open wound using pressure-sensitive adhesives that never pierce the skin. After the wound is healed, the device simply peels off.

“The great part about it is that it’s really quick,” said Dr. Hooman Khorasani, Chief of Division of Mohs, Reconstructive, and Cosmetic Surgery and Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine. “When a patient comes in, we essentially remove the tumor, put on the device and zip it shut.”

For best results, Khorasani says that sutures are required on a deeper level of the skin. But when the ZipLine is used on the top layer, the results are cosmetically very similar to stitching.

Barbara Wikstrom, a 68-year-old dog walker in New York City, was recently diagnosed with a basal cell carcinoma just under her arm. Dr. Khorasani removed the cancerous skin and closed the wound using the ZipLine.

“I hardly have any scar at all,” said Wikstrom. “You can barely see it.”

The ZipLine device has been approved by the FDA and is currently in use.

By Marianne Hayes

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