WSVN -- Madeline Ramos escaped the New Jersey cold back in the 90's for the warmer, sunny weather in South Florida.
Madeline Ramos: "I love the sun. I love to be out in the sun. Everything I do has to do with the sun."
And she's not kidding her job. As a parking lot attendant it requires her to be outside all day and she spends most of her free time working in the yard.
Madeline Ramos: "Sunscreen, I'm bad. I don't use any type of sunscreen."
Even though Florida has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the nation. Madeline never worried until she noticed an unusual spot on her face.
Madeline Ramos: "The mole on my temple came out about a year ago, it was tiny. As time went on, it got bigger and bigger."
But she was afraid the doctor would leave her scarred if the spot needed to be biopsied.
Madeline Ramos: "I was afraid. A biopsy that's scary. It's a piece taken out of your skin."
A biopsy can save your life, but the downside is that patients are usually left with a scar even if it's just a harmless freckle or mole.
Dr. Shasa Hu: "Typically, if we do a skin check and find something suspicious, we often need to cut it out, and that leaves a scar. Percent of the time it turns out to be nothing."
But those unnecessary scars may become a thing of the past. Doctors at the Melanoma Center at the UM Sylvester Cancer Center, have a high-tech device that could change the way cancer is diagnosed.
Dr Shasa Hu: "Vivascope is a new machine that allows us to see beyond the surface of the skin, without needing to cut into the skin."
Here's how it works: If during a routine skin check, your doctor sees something that looks suspicious they scan it with the Vivascope.
Dr Shasa Hu: "The machine uses a laser as the source of light and scan deeper layers into the skin. The scanning process is painless and takes about 10 minutes."
If it's something harmless you'll know right away, but if the Vivascope reveals something abnormal, then the doctor can order a biopsy.
Dr Shasa Hu: "It allows us to diagnose melanoma earlier."
The test helped detect skin cancer for Madeline. She just had the cancerous spot removed something that could save her life.
Madeline Ramos: "I feel good, they caught in time."
Diana Diaz: "Right now, the Vivascope is only being used at a few doctors offices in South Florida."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery 1475 N.W. 12th Avenue, Location D-1Miami, FL 33136305-243-7074