Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Skin imaging in cancer prevention

Melanoma is a serious and sometimes life-threatening cancer. However, with early diagnosis and treatment, the chances of recovery are very good. To this end, an Israeli SME has developed a prototype camera to monitor potentially cancerous moles.
Skin imaging in cancer prevention
Melanoma is a disorder caused by specific skin cells called melanocytes. These epidermal cells are capable of synthesising melanin which gives skin its colour and at the same time protects it from the harmful Ultra-Violet (UV) rays. When melanocytes begin to grow abnormally and penetrate into the depth of the skin, melanoma occurs. It is very important for people at high risk of developing skin cancer to be checked frequently by their doctor in order to find suspicious moles early and have them treated.

A new camera has been developed for following up and accurately comparing the current and previously suspected mole images. The Skin Sentinel, as the system is called, can measure up to four levels into the depth of the skin. This is of primary importance as cancerous melanoma cells travel though the blood stream and affect other organs. Moreover, the system takes into account external parameters such as temperature and humidity which have a direct influence on the optical parameters of the skin. In this way, a very high repeatability of the reflection and absorption spectra is achieved. These features yield high diagnostic accuracy, simplicity and cost efficiency in measuring depth changes between present and previous images.

The medical devices industry may benefit from turning this prototype camera into a commercial product. The benefits can be extended by applying this same technology to a number of other applications, including cosmetics.
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