High-Tech Tools at Miami Cancer Institute Help Detect and Treat Skin Cancers

Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute

Most Floridians sport some freckles, moles or other signs of sun damage. Surprisingly, Florida doesn’t rank first in the incidence of skin cancer, but it does place second in the U.S. in cases of melanoma ― the deadliest type of skin cancer.

There is some good news in the battle against skin cancer, however. Miami Cancer Institute, part of Baptist Health, offers a unique, high-tech tool for detecting skin cancer early. There is also an on-site clinic to remove lesions with a technique that minimizes the need for invasive surgical intervention. These advances make it possible for South Floridians to get the best care without leaving the area.

Alternative Text

Vectra 3-D Imaging

The Institute is one of just a handful of locations in the U.S. to offer the Vectra, a 3-D whole-body imaging system that helps identify suspicious lesions and track changes over time. The system incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance analysis.

Dr. Braghiroli
Naiara Braghiroli, M.D., chief of the skin cancer clinic at Miami Cancer Institute and Kalman Bass Associate Endowed Chair in Skin Cancer

“It’s a powerful tool to help us monitor those patients most at risk for developing skin cancers,” said dermatologist Naiara Braghiroli, M.D., chief of the skin cancer clinic at Miami Cancer Institute and Kalman Bass Associate Endowed Chair in Skin Cancer. “It’s basically a documentation of every single mole that the patient has on the body.”

The procedure, done at the Institute’s Multidisciplinary Skin Cancer Clinic, takes only a few minutes and is safe and painless. The patient stands in the middle of a digital camera system that takes and processes 92 images simultaneously, then assembles them into a 3-D avatar, or digital model of the patient. The dermatologist can then review all of the patient’s lesions.

“With Vectra we have a baseline set of photographs that helps the dermatologist monitor the patient’s moles over time,” Dr. Braghiroli said. “With the subsequent visits, we can identify those lesions that are changing or new ones that have developed over time. Then you can find possible skin cancer at its early phase.”

Dr. Braghiroli cautions, however, that the technology should not replace regular skin self-exams recommended for everyone or a complete skin check by a dermatologist for those with risk factors or a previous history.

Mohs Micrographic Surgery

Doctor Raisch
Michael Raisch, M.D., a Mohs surgeon at Miami Cancer Institute’s Mohs Micrographic Surgery Clinic

At the Institute’s Mohs Micrographic Surgery Clinic, Michael Raisch, M.D., a fellowship-trained and board certified Mohs surgeon, treats squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, skin adnexal tumors, dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, atypical fibroxanthoma and other rare cutaneous tumors.

Dr. Raisch is also developing protocols to treat early cases of melanoma. This highly complex process allows the melanoma cells to be seen more easily using immunostaining ― a technique that “paints” the cancer cells a vibrant color and allows the process to occur with frozen section processing. Mohs, considered the most effective treatment for most skin cancers, is often recommended when the cancer is large, aggressive or located in areas where it is critical to preserve as much normal tissue as possible, such as on the head, neck, hands, feet and genitals.

“The technique allows us to remove microscopic layers of skin and tissue that we can rapidly process to examine under a microscope,” Dr. Raisch said. “We can repeat the process during a single visit until no cancer cells remain. Because we can verify that all cancer cells are removed, we increase the chance of a cure, which is up to 99 percent with Mohs.”

Mohs micrographic surgery uses local anesthesia and has less scarring and a faster recovery when compared with more-invasive surgery. Small areas may be left open to heal on their own, while others may require sutures and bandaging. The vast majority of patients are treated in a single day and most heal within several weeks.

Skin cancer remains the most common cancer diagnosed today. Approximately one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. May is National Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness Month, and at Miami Cancer Institute the spotlight is on prevention, early detection and treatment.

Remember to follow these tips to reduce your risk for skin cancer:

· Avoid the sun as much as possible, especially between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

· Use sunscreen every day. Reapply frequently.

· Wear protective clothing and sunglasses.

· Avoid tanning and never use indoor tanning beds (a single exposure increases one’s risk of melanoma).

Skin cancer can occur anywhere on the body, according to Dr. Raisch, so when checking your skin, he says to be sure to look between your toes, on the soles of your feet and other places that don’t get sun exposure. If you notice a bleeding spot, a new growth or a change in an existing mole, see your primary care physician or dermatologist.

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

Language Preference / Preferencia de idioma

I want to see the site in English

Continue In English

Quiero ver el sitio en Español

Continuar en español