Amazing £170,000 microscope at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital could end pain of skin cancer biopsies for 6,000 people every year
- Credit: Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital
Up to 6,000 people a year could have much of the pain and anxiety of being checked for skin cancer ended - thanks to a state-of-the-art microscope that has arrived in Norfolk.
The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) is the second in the country and the first outside London to get the £170,000 piece of equipment, which detects the disease without the need for a biopsy.
The 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.
The current biopsy procedure also requires the samples to be sent to a laboratory for analysis - adding time and worry for the patient.
An N&N spokesman said the microscope would be used for research purposes in the first few months before being used to detect skin cancer in dermatology clinics once staff training had been completed.
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Dr Jennifer Garioch, N&N consultant dermatologist, said: '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.'
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The machine uses low-power laser beams that shine through the skin and reflect off tissues below the surface.
It then illuminates the skin cells in question and allows the doctor to determine if the patient has cancer without surgical removal of skin samples.
Most of the funding for the £170,000 confocal microscope has come from a fundraising campaign run by the N&N, with donations from local people and organisations to the Skin Cancer Research Fund.
The fund is part of the hospital charity and is dedicated to raising money for the benefit of skin cancer patients.
Some of the main contributors have been Norwich City's technical director Ricky Martin and the Norfolk FA raising over £15,000, Our Little Friends charity - which raised about £12,000 - and the Cook family who raised in excess of £7,000 after Kenny Cook was treated by the unit before he died.