Keeping the tradition of being a lab rat, I participated in a clinical research trial on Friday during my visit with my new dermatologist, Dr. Maggoo. After noticing a suspicious spot on my right arm (see previous blog posts for pictures) Dr. Maggoo asked if I would participate in a study before having the spot biopsied. The technical name for the trial is: "In Vivo Confocal Microscopy of Cutaneous Neoplasms and Normal Skin." Phew---that is a mouthful.
The purpose of the trial is "to investigate new non-invasive imaging techniques for the evaluation of skin lesions, as well as normal skin...The long-term goal is to develop a technique that will improve the early detection of skin cancer and eliminate the need for many skin biopsies."
The possibility of less scars in the future? Count me in!
So, how does this work?
First, I should tell you (because I didn't know...) "in vivo" means in/on a living subject. So, obviously, I was the living subject. The confocal microscope was placed on my skin to look at the suspicious mole. "The reflectance confocal microscope uses a sophisticated lens device and a very weak infrared light source to imagine the individual cells that make up the skin." (Mom, and 6 doctors, watched all of this...From what I could see, it looked pretty freakin' cool!) Then, another device, an optical coherence tomography, "uses a lens and very weak infrared light to image structure of skin. The other device, the fluorescence confocal microscope uses a similar lens system as well as a small amount of fluorescent dye that is injected into the skin." "Your skin will be evaluated with one or both of these confocal microscopes and the OCT device. In the event that the images obtained from your skin or skin lesion meet criteria for removal, a biopsy will be performed."
The entire procedure was painless. It took a while since everyone is still learning the ropes, but it was quite interesting hearing my doctor teach the others. For the record, he seems like a great teacher. It also helped that everyone was super friendly and hilarious. They made me relax...(Soooo unlike the doctor who did my neck ultrasound!!) Like I said in the previous post, there are only 9 other places in the country who have the ability to do this trial. There are only 40 in the world. Dr. Maggoo flat out told me I was watching tomorrows technology being used today. I feel privileged to have been part of such an experimental trial. Maybe in a few years when this procedure becomes more readily available, more people will go to the dermatologist because they will not automatically fear having something removed. You never know why people postpone going to appointments...Fear is a funny thing, and denial is so easy!
As you know, I had the have the biopsy. I am hoping Dr. Maggoo was just being safe, but I will know for sure in a few more days. I will be sure to post when I get the results.
To those of you who have the opportunity to participate in trials, I encourage you to do so. Without research, we will not gain additional answers. Don't you want to help save someone from this nightmare?
Happy Wednesday, friends. XO!