Non-invasive technology gets agency's approval
A new non-invasive technology for detection of skin cancers developed in Vancouver could potentially shorten skin-cancer detection times to a matter of seconds.
The device, developed by the BC Cancer Agency and the University of B.C., was approved on Wednesday by Health Canada, which means it can be marketed and sold in Canada.
At present, the most accurate means of diagnosing skin cancer is through a biopsy - surgical removal of a piece of skin that is then analyzed for malignancy.
The new device does not, at the moment, replace biopsy as the definitive means of diagnosis - that will require a long process of accuracy testing - but it will help screen suspicious skin lesions more quickly and accurately, said device co-inventor Dr. Haishan Zeng.
At present, physicians look at patients' skin visually and based on experience, recommend a biopsy if they think there may be a problem.
The new optical device uses Raman spectroscopy to analyze the biochemical composition of the skin to detect the presence of cancerous cells in less than two seconds, said Zeng, a senior scientist in the integrative oncology department at the BC Cancer Agency.
"Its biggest advantage is that it is non-invasive and can help general practitioners make decisions quickly. Speed is the key ...."
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