Handheld Device Painlessly Identifies Skin Cancer without any Biopsy Scars

Skin biopsies aren’t fun at all. Doctors have to cut away small sections of the tissue to be tested in the laboratory which results in aching wounds in the patients that can last for weeks.

However, this is a price many individuals are ready to pay as it helps identify the type of cancer and allows for early treatment and higher chances of success. 

But, in the last period, aggressive methods of diagnosis like biopsies have been on the rise. 

Their number rose four times than the times that cancer was diagnosed and data shows that around 30 benign lesions are biopsied for every skin cancer case that’s discovered.

New Way of Doing Biopsy without Scarring?

A research team from the Stevens Institute of Technology worked on a low-cost and handheld device that may cut the need for painful biopsies by 50 percent and provide dermatologists and other physicians with easy access to lab-grade diagnostics for cancer.

According to Negar Tavassolian, the director of the Bio-Electromagnetics Lab at Stevens, the goal isn’t to remove biopsies entirely. However, they want to enable doctors to have various tools and optimize their decision-making processes.

This handheld device is based on millimeter-wave imaging (the same tech used in airport security scanners) in order to scan the skin of a patient. 

Healthy tissue will reflect millimeter-wave rays differently than the cancerous tissues; therefore, there’s a theoretical chance to detect cancer by monitoring the rays contrasts that are reflected back from the patient’s skin.

The team used a tabletop version of the tech and checked 71 patients in real-world visits to clinics and they concluded that the methods are accurate in helping differentiate between the malignant and benign lesions within seconds.

The researchers, thanks to this device, identified cancerous tissues with 97 percent of sensitivity and 98 percent of specificity. 

Although there are some other, efficient technologies for imaging and detection of skin cancers, these are large and costly machines that many clinics and hospitals don’t have.

According to the team, the aim is to make a low-cost device that is compact and easily used in order to make advanced diagnostic tools widely available.

This Handheld Device Opens Up a Whole New Aspect of the Skin Cancer Diagnostics World

Since this tech brings results within seconds, it may one day become a standard instead of magnifying dermatoscopy and provide precise results quickly. 

The tool may be commercialized and thus, this premium tech can become routine diagnostics in skin checkups and increase the precision of the diagnostic process.

Unlike plenty of other imaging methods, the millimeter-wave rays don’t harm the skin when they penetrate some 2 mm into it. The 3D map of the scanned lesions is very clear. 

As the algorithm is further enhanced, the mapping will become more precise, and eventually, the goal is to reduce the invasive aspect of biopsying for malignant lesions.