Improving medical students

Diagnose Skin Cancer without Biopsy

Posted by medliorator on June 7, 2007

“The standard way physicians do a diagnosis now is to cut out a mole and look at a slice of it with a microscope,” said Warren Warren… “What we’re trying to do is find cancer signals they can get to without having to cut out the mole.”The distributions of hemoglobin… and melanin… serve as early warning signs for skin cancer growth. But because skin scatters light strongly, simple microscopes cannot be used to locate those molecules except right at the surface.

Warren’s group has now developed a technology for coaxing both hemoglobin and melanin inside questionable skin moles to emit light by exciting them with highly controlled laser pulses.

The innovation uses a delicate interplay between two laser beams, each emitting a different color of light. To keep the skin from overheating in the process, the lasers must also be able to pulse on for only femtoseconds…at a time.

“We have proposals pending for developing a compact laser system that could be sitting in a dermatologist’s office here at Duke within three years where we could actually have the first human demonstrations,” Warren said.

Diagnosing Skin Cancers with Light, Not Scalpels [Duke University]

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