Melanoma

Susan Steel ignored a mole in 2005.

The Chicago resident and mother of two said she put it off but eventually went to her dermatologist only when the mole began to bleed. The first visit confirmed she had melanoma and the growth needed to be surgically removed.

“You go into surgery very quickly and then the surgeon comes out and looks desperate and tells you that you have less than a year to live,” she said.

At that time there were no effective treatments, some options had a “high” 6 percent chance of survival, Steel says.

If a cancer cell forms in the body, does it make a sound?

John Viator, director of the Duquesne University biomedical engineering program, would say yes—if it’s hit by a laser.

Viator and his team received a five-year, $1.4 million federal grant to use lasers in detecting, capturing and analyzing circulating melanoma cells, which is the most dangerous form of skin cancer.