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New hand-held device uses lasers, sound waves for deeper melanoma imaging
Date:8/6/2014

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6, 2014A new hand-held device that uses lasers and sound waves may change the way doctors treat and diagnose melanoma, according to a team of researchers from Washington University in St. Louis. The instrument, described in a paper published today in The Optical Society's (OSA) journal Optics Letters, is the first that can be used directly on a patient and accurately measure how deep a melanoma tumor extends into the skin, providing valuable information for treatment, diagnosis or prognosis.

Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer type in the United States, and incidence rates are rising faster than those of any other cancer. It's also the deadliest form of skin cancer, causing more than 75 percent of skin-cancer deaths.

The thicker the melanoma tumor, the more likely it will spread and the deadlier it becomes, says dermatologist Lynn Cornelius, one of the study's coauthors. Being able to measure the depth of the tumor in vivo enables doctors to determine prognoses more accuratelypotentially at the time of initial evaluationand plan treatments and surgeries accordingly.

The problem is that current methods can't directly measure a patient's tumor very well. Because skin scatters light, high-resolution optical techniques don't reach deep enough. "None are really sufficient to provide the two to four millimeter penetration that's at least required for melanoma diagnosis, prognosis or surgical planning," says engineer Lihong Wang, another coauthor on the Optics Letters paper.

Researchers have tried other methods, but they aren't much better. High-frequency ultrasound doesn't have enough image contrast, and magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography have insufficient resolution and require expensive and bulky instruments.

"Any type of tissue diag
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Contact: Lyndsay Meyer
lmeyer@osa.org
202-416-1435
The Optical Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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New hand-held device uses lasers, sound waves for deeper melanoma imaging
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