Cancer is never good news, but it is better to get such news as early as possible. Early diagnosis dramatically improves chances of survival for cancer patients and can make the treatment itself much less tormenting. New technology, developed after the research at The University of Queensland, is capable of distinguishing cancer from healthy skin using laser-based imaging technology.
Scientists are already saying that this technology could be easily transformed into a commonplace tool, available at most healthcare institutions, diagnosing cancer. Not only that, but a prototype has already been developed. This tool would assess skin lesions, which would allow for early skin cancer diagnosis. It uses terahertz laser, which allows health practitioners to examine skin lesions without waiting for any visible change to develop. However, despite what scientists have already achieved, it will still take some time for the prototype to be developed into a useable and effective device.
Dr Yah Leng Lim, developer of the technology, said: “Our test results are extremely promising, but the current prototype is bulky and requires cryogenic cooling to operate. The next step is to consolidate the electronics and system design to develop a cryogen-free system”.
This system would be extremely useful for early diagnosis. Even though we constantly see improvements in cancer treatments and new drugs are emerging all the time, early diagnosis is still the best predictor for survival. Currently, skin cancer diagnoses are usually based on visual inspections using a dermatoscope. Although an experienced eye of the doctor can detect cancer pretty accurately, limitations of current technology mean that as many as 20% of cancer cases remain undetected.
Now researchers will try improving the prototype, making a smaller and a more usable version. Prototype also has to pass trials in clinics to further perfect its performance. However, scientists are already excited about this technology becoming a commonplace tool in hospitals and clinics, used for cancer screening. We can only hope that it will not take too long for this idea to come into the hands of health practitioners.