Currently the general method to diagnose skin cancer is through visual inspection by a dermatologist with the aid of a dermatoscope, after which a biopsy is performed to confirm the diagnoThe visual examination accuracy is highly variable and depends on the level of training and experience of the clinician.
A biopsy is an invasive procedure that results in pain, anxiety, scarring, and disfigurement of patients. In addition, histopathological procedure takes as long as several days, and approximately 15-30 benign lesions are biopsied to diagnose one skin cancer.
In a recently published study, researchers used a new device that uses millimeter-wave imaging, a technology used in airport security scanners, to scan a patient’s skin to detect if they have skin cancer. This device harmlessly penetrate about 2 mm into human skin, and imaging technology provides a clear 3D map of scanned skin lesions.
The team evaluated a total of 71 patients during real-world clinical visits, and found that their methods could accuarately distinguish benign and malignant lesions in just a few seconds. They could identify cancerous tissue with a 97% sensitivity and 98% specificity, a rate competitive with even the best hospital-grade diagnostic tools.
Because the team’s technology delivers results in seconds, it could one day be used instead of a magnifying dermatoscope in routine checkups, giving extremely accurate results almost instantly.
Stevens Institute of Technology. “Bye, bye, biopsy? Handheld device could painlessly identify skin cancers: Stevens Institute of Technology uses millimeter-wave imaging to slash rate of unnecessary biopsies.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 May 2022. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/05/220504135627.htm>.
Mirbeik, A., Ashinoff, R., Jong, T. et al. Real-time high-resolution millimeter-wave imaging for in-vivo skin cancer diagnosis. Sci Rep 12, 4971 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-09047-6