Scientists Develop New Method For Detecting Melanoma Skin Cancer

Posted: Dec 25 2016, 8:49am CST | by , Updated: Dec 25 2016, 8:55am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Scientists Develop New Method for Detecting Melanoma Skin Cancer
An image of a skin lesion is processed by a new technology. Credit: Rockefeller University
 

New automated approach can help physicians detect melanoma at its early stages.

Melanoma can be hard to detect and diagnose. That’s because this skin cancer can start with a mere mole which later turns out to be a cancerous tumor.

To solve the problem, researchers from Rockefeller University have developed an automated technology that can help physicians detect melanoma at early stages. The early detection is a key factor in lowering mortality from melanoma skin cancer. The new method could improve melanoma diagnosis and potentially replace screening that is the standard method for detecting skin cancer.

“There is a real need for standardization across the field of dermatology in how melanomas are evaluated,” said co-author James Krueger. “Detection through screening saves lives but is very challenging visually, and even when a suspicious lesion is extracted and biopsied, it is confirmed to be melanoma in only about 10 percent of cases.”

The new approach involves computer algorithms that process the images of lesions and extract quantitative data from them like shape and color of lesions. Then, they generate an overall risk score that is called a Q-score, indicating the chances of developing melanoma skin cancer. A score between zero and one represents the higher probability of lesion being a cancerous tumor.

Researchers claim that the new method can detect early melanomas on skin with 98 percent accuracy, which is impossible to achieve with conventional methods.

“The success of the Q-score in predicting melanoma is a marked improvement over competing technologies.” Lead author of the study Daniel Gareau said.

Researchers have developed the tool by feeding 60 images of cancerous melanomas. With the help of these images, the tool can precisely quantify visual changes in the growth of moles and calculates an overall Q-score. 

Melanoma is the most deadliest form of skin cancer. Despite using sunscreen and avoiding excessive exposure to sun, the incidence and mortality from melanoma is rising steadily in U.S. According to statistics, melanoma rate has doubled from 1982 and 2011. Around 76,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with melanoma this year, resulting in nearly 10,000 deaths.

 “This technology could help detect the disease earlier, which could save lives, and avoid unnecessary biopsies too,” said Gareau. “Our next step is to evaluate this method in larger studies and take a closer look at how can we use specific color wavelengths to reveal aspects of the lesions that may be invisible to the human eye but could still be useful in diagnoses.” 

 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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