Scientists develop world's first scanner capable of detecting invisible skin cancer

October 4, 2022  17:53

The world's first scanner capable of detecting skin cancer invisible to the human eye has been invented to improve diagnosis and speed up surgery, Sky News TV channel reports. 

The purpose of the "skinometer," developed by scientists at the University of Warwick, is to determine how far the cancer has spread under the skin.

Patients with skin cancer undergoing treatment at Coventry University Hospital are invited to participate in a test of the technology.

"Some skin cancers can be under the skin and we can't see them, so when we remove them surgically, sometimes a small piece can be left behind. With this technology, we hope to be able to operate more accurately and remove more cancers the first time," said Professor Joe Hardwick, a consultant in plastic and reconstructive surgery at the hospital

Currently, multiple skin samples must be taken and examined during surgery to make sure all cancer cells are removed - but using a skin scanner should significantly reduce surgery time.

The skin scanner uses pulses of light from the terahertz part of the light spectrum that hit the surface of the skin and reflect off it.

The waveform of the reflected light shows how far the cancer has spread under the skin.

Professor Emma McPherson of the Department of Physics at Warwick University is leading the project.

"We're collecting the world's first data to try to show that this works and that we can actually speed up cancer diagnosis and treatment," she said.

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