A European research team has developed a handheld diagnostic scanner that can detect skin cancer in 30 seconds. It uses an infrared laser beam to identify blood vessels grown by malignant melanomas. The devices could reduce the need for expensive and debilitating sentinel-lymph node biopsies while preventing patients having to wait weeks for a proper diagnosis.
The device, known as ‘VivoSight’, created as part of the ‘Automatic Detection of VAscular Networks for Cancer Evaluation’ (Advance) project, uses an infrared laser to create a 3D colour image of the blood vessels located nanometres under the skin via a new and advanced version of optical coherence tomography(OCT), a photonics technique more commonly used in retina scans. With it the device can identify the tell-tale distorted and malformed blood vessels produced by melanomas, allowing them to be used to confirm a cancer diagnosis in patients.