Melanoma is the deadliest forms of skin cancer, but people can significantly improve their chances of survival by checking themselves regularly. You should always look at your moles and other skin structures to spot cancer early in its development. Now scientists from the University of British Columbia have developed a device, which can quickly distinguish between harmless moles and cancerous ones.
More than 130 thousand people in the world are diagnosed with melanoma every year. A significant portion of these case end in death, although treatments are always improving. However, the best way to increase your chances of surviving melanoma is to spot it early. And that’s what the new compact laser probe is designed to do. It is relatively inexpensive and quite easy to use. Doctors would simply aim the laser at the skin, which needs testing, and a laser light would be shined onto it. This device operates on a principle that light waves change as they pass through objects. Cancer cells are denser so they change properties of the light differently.
Cancer cells are larger, denser and irregularly shaped. Due to these properties the beam of light is scattered in a specific manner, which can be measured and interpreted. This device has technology to interpret the scattering and recognize the patterns. Observations are displayed in a numerical value, which is easy to understand. But the best thing is that this compact laser probe is made of readily available materials and existing components. This means that the cost of the device is just a few hundred dollars. However, scientists say that it is still not meant to be a consumer product.
This compact laser probe is completely safe, but it should still be used by a trained professional only. It does its lob in a matter of seconds and initial tests proved it to be very accurate. Tim Lee, one of the scientists behind this probe, said: “If we can develop a device that can be integrated easily into other parts of the health care system, we can simplify the screening process and potentially save hundreds if not thousands of lives”. Now scientists want to put their device in the hands of actual doctors, but that is going to take quite some time.
Creators of the device want to see it being used in actual clinical setting, but that is not going to happen any time soon. At first they will have to conduct more clinical testing, improve and refine their technology and then they can expect Health Canada certification and approval. It is a lengthy process, but hopefully at the end this device will help saving lives.