Optical Coherence Tomography Biopsy

Findings at the Skin Cancer Foundation show that one person dies every hour from skin cancer in the United States – a good reason why everyone should schedule regular skin examinations.

In the past, every worrisome skin lesion required a biopsy – meaning a small piece of tissue was surgically removed and sent to a pathology laboratory. If the biopsy showed cancer, additional surgery would be necessary. Even today, surgical biopsy continues to be the standard care for skin cancer.

Orit Markowitz, MD, Director of Pigmented Lesions and Skin Cancer at The Mount Sinai Hospital has pioneered a new technology called optical coherence tomography (OCT), which is changing for the better the way we approach skin biopsies and cancer surgery. An important component of OCT is the updated imaging laser that takes vertical and horizontal pictures of the skin. By combining this device with other lasers, we're discovering ways to diagnose and treat skin cancer bloodlessly.

Recently appointed President of the International Optical Coherence Tomography Society, Dr. Markowitz recognizes the potential of OCT to eliminate the need for surgery in many cases. Advantages of OCT include improved comfort, greater convenience, and less scarring. Dr. Markowitz's research has enabled The Mount Sinai Hospital to become the country's leading center for the development and use of OCT.

Moreover, Dr. Markowitz has found OCT to be useful for benign skin growths (such as harmless moles, warts, hemangiomas, seborrheic and actinic keratosis, and cysts), thus preventing the need for unnecessary biopsies. Using OCT prevents the need for unnecessary biopsies for still other dermatological diseases such as psoriasis, scabies, and blistering diseases.

The Mount Sinai Hospital offers OCT and other noninvasive diagnostic techniques to patients.