The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is the second hospital in the country, and the first outside London, to benefit from a new state-of-the-art microscope to detect skin cancer without the need for a biopsy. The new Confocal Microscope enables dermatologists to view detailed images of the upper layers of skin allowing cancer to be diagnosed without the need for obtaining a sample of skin under local anaesthetic which then has to be sent to the laboratory for analysis. The microscope will be used for research purposes in the first few months before being used to detect skin cancer in dermatology clinics once staff training has been completed.
Dr Jennifer Garioch, NNUH Consultant Dermatologist, say: “We are a leading skin cancer centre in the country and every year we screen over 6,000 people of all ages and backgrounds for possible skin cancer. “This new equipment is revolutionary and will have huge benefits for patients, providing on-the-spot diagnosis and reducing the numbers of biopsies which are needed.”
The machine uses low-power laser beams that shine through the skin and reflect off tissues below the surface, illuminating the skin cells in question and allowing the doctor to determine if the patient has cancer without surgical removal of skin samples.