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How does wood's lamp help to detect skin cancer?

Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
Dermatology

A Wood's lamp is a handheld ultraviolet "black" light that enhances the appearance of pigmented lesions. It helps reveal melanomas at an early stage. This is the same kind of light used in spas (the one that makes your face appear to be a map of sun damage). To a doctor's naked eye, a lesion on someone's face might seem to be only the size of a dime, but when the doctor holds a Wood's lamp to it - they can see that it has spread all over the cheek. The limitation of the Wood's lamp is that it cannot evaluate depth of pigment, which determines how advanced a melanoma has become. (Most melanomas grow radially first, like an oil slick, and then begin to go down deeper into the skin.)

Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

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Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

What if a leading dermatologist just happened to be your best friend and you could ask her anything? DR. ELLEN MARMUR, a world-renowned New York City dermatologist, answers all your questions with...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.