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Allan C. Halpern  

Chief of Dermatology Service at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center & Co-Editor of The Melanoma Letter

Allan C. Halpern is a board-certified internist and dermatologist with special expertise in skin cancer — especially melanoma. Much of his clinical career has focused on the early detection and management of melanoma in high-risk individuals. To improve the early detection of melanoma, he has pioneered the use of whole-body photography to assist in the detection of changing moles in patients with dysplastic nevi (large, irregular colored or shaped moles).

Dr. Halpern has established a fully computerized digital imaging system at Memorial Sloan Kettering to monitor moles in patients who have dysplastic nevi or a personal history of melanoma. The program creates a baseline digital photographic record of the patient’s moles. When the patient returns for follow-up appointments, new and changing moles can be identified, enabling subtle melanomas to be recognized at a stage when they are easily cured. The system also reduces the need to excise stable moles and moles erroneously perceived by the patient to have changed.

Dr. Halpern's research efforts are focused on epidemiologic (population-based) studies of risk factors for developing melanoma and strategies for the prevention and early detection of this disease. Part of this research is an ongoing study of the genetic and environmental factors that influence the development of moles in children and adolescents. Another exciting area of research involves the development of novel optical imaging techniques for the non-invasive diagnosis and management of skin cancer. These techniques include the use of automated computerized image analysis and non-invasive subsurface microscopy. These technologies are currently being developed in a research setting and are not yet available for clinical care.

In addition to his role as Chief of the Dermatology Service, Dr. Halpern is Co-Leader of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Melanoma Disease Management Team, which incorporates the expertise of doctors in surgery, medical oncology, clinical immunology, dermatology, pathology, and radiation oncology to diagnose and treat melanoma.

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