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3-in-1 optical skin cancer probe
Date:8/5/2014

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 5, 2014 As thousands of vacationers hit the beach this summer, many of them will expose their unprotected bare limbs to direct UV sunlight, potentially putting them at risk of skin cancer later in life. To fight back, scientists can also turn to light, designing optical devices that may detect cancerous skin lesions early on, leading to better treatment outcomes and ultimately saving lives.

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin's Cockrell School of Engineering have now developed a probe that combines into one device three unique ways of using light to measure the properties of skin tissue and detect cancer. The researchers have begun testing their 3-in-1 device in pilot clinical trials and are partnering with funding agencies and start-up companies to help bring the device to dermatologists' offices.

The researchers describe the skin cancer probe in a new paper published in the journal Review of Scientific Instruments, from AIP Publishing.

Skin cancers of all types are the most common forms of cancer in North America, and melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, is one of the leading causes of cancer death, killing nearly 10,000 people every year in the United States.

Currently, the only definitive way to diagnose skin cancer is to perform a biopsy, in which doctors remove a suspect skin lesion and then examine the stained tissue under a microscope to look for cancerous cells. Determining which lesions to biopsy is an imprecise art, however, and for every case of skin cancer detected there are roughly 25 negative biopsies performed, translating to a cost of $6 billion to the U.S. health care system, according to estimations performed by the researchers.

James Tunnell, an associate professor in the biomedical engineering department at UT, believes the new probe developed by his team could eventually help reduce the high number and cost of negative biopsies b
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Contact: Jason Socrates Bardi
jbardi@aip.org
240-535-4954
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert  

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