New laser technique could boost skin cancer diagnosis

1 March 2011

A new skin cancer diagnosis technique could help save thousands of lives each year if the method's successes can be mirrored in a clinical setting.

Lasers are already a weapon in the arsenal of oncologists when it comes to treating cancer, but the new technique has been shown to successfully diagnose malignant melanoma - even in asymptomatic patients.

So far, the US researchers behind the revolutionary diagnostic technique have recorded a 100 per cent success rate.

Professor Warren Warren the director of Duke University's Centre for Molecular and Biomolecular Imaging and lead author of the new cancer diagnosis research, told the Daily Mail: "Melanomas are very hard to diagnose, because they look almost identical to non-cancerous abnormal moles."

He added: "The great innovations of modern medical imaging, such as X-ray, CT, MRI and the like, don't work very well on skin."

The technique involves the analysis of a mole's light absorption spectrum. Scientists can use the data from two lasers to spot chemical differences in cells that denote whether they are cancerous or not.

1 Warre, Warren et al. "Pump-Probe Imaging Differentiates Melanoma from Melanocytic Nevi". Science Transnational Medicine. Wednesday, February 23rd 2011.

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