Tiny laser detects signs of skin cancer

Thursday, February 24, 2011

LONDON - A tiny laser can detect signs of skin cancer and save thousands of lives, scientists say.

The device fires a double laser beam, with less combined energy than a laser pointer, into a suspicious mole and analyses the locations of different skin pigments.

Scientists then look at the amount of eumelanin in the pigments - which is present in greater amounts in potentially cancerous tissue, the journal Science Translational Medicine reports.

It is the first time the technique has been used and a team successfully identified a number of samples with melanoma - the deadliest form of skin cancer, according to the Telegraph.

Even with a 50 percent success rate, the device could prevent hundreds of thousands of false diagnoses of the disease across the world each year, says Thomas Matthews of Duke University in the US.

Skin cancer is the fifth most common cause of the disease in men and the sixth most common in women.

The team plans to study thousands of archived skin slices using the laser to predict its accuracy.

Currently, doctors use either a light and magnifying glass to study a mole or perform a tissue biopsy.

Filed under: Cancer, Medicine, World

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