The incidence of skin cancer in Europe, US, and Australia is rising rapidly. One in five will develop some form of skin cancer during the lifetime. A person has a 1:33 chance to develop melanoma, the most aggressive skin cancer. Melanoma is the second most common cancer in women aged 20-29, and the sixth most common cancer in men and women. In 2007, more than 1 million new cases will be diagnosed in the US alone. About 90% of skin cancers are caused by ultraviolet (UV) sun light. The World Health Organization estimates that 60,000 people will die this year from too much sun: 48,000 from melanoma and 12,000 from other skin cancer. A significant improvement of the current diagnostic tools of dermatologists is required in order to identify dermal disorders at a very early stage as well as to monitor directly the effects of treatment. We suggest within this proposal the development of a non-invasive multimodal hybrid imaging system with the capability to perform non-invasive high resolution three-dimensional clinical (i) two-photon imaging with time-correlated single photon detection, (ii) autofluorescence lifetime imaging, (iii) high-frequency acoustical imaging with novel miniaturized multiple detector arrays, and (iv) optoacoustical imaging using ultrashort near infrared (NIR) laser pulses. This novel multimodal approach will provide a wide-field “acoustic/optoacoustic” view with quantitative depth information of the dermatological lesion as well as a close “optical” look into particular intratissue compartments with quantitative hyperspectral information and subcellular resolution. A successful project will provide a novel unique tool for early diagnosis and treatment control of skin cancer and skin disease and will significantly contribute to the improvement of the European health care system.
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