Handheld Device to diagnose skin cancer

Handheld Device; Even the best dermatologists can’t diagnose skin cancer by eye, relying on magnifying glasses to examine suspicious blemishes and scalpels to cut tissue for analysis. With up to more than 70% of biopsies coming back negative, millions of healthy patients undergo painful, costly and unnecessary procedures.

Now, using shortwave rays used in cellphones and airport security scanners, researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology have developed a technique that detects skin lesions and determines whether they are cancerous or benign a technology that could ultimately be incorporated into a handheld device that could rapidly diagnose skin cancer without a scalpel in sight.

Most common cancer

The work, led by Negar Tavassolian, director of the Stevens Bio Electromagnetics Laboratory; also postdoctoral fellow Amir Mirbeik-Sabzevari, not only has the ability to reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies by 50% but also has the potential to disrupt a $5.3 billion diagnostic market; so for the most common cancer in the United States, with 9,500 Americans diagnosed with skin cancer each day.

The team’s technology uses millimeter-wave radiation the same shortwave rays; which used in cellphones and airport security scanners. Millimeter-wave rays penetrate certain materials and bounce off others; which is how airport security knows if you leave your keys in your pocket as you walk through a scanner. Just as metal reflects more energy than your body; so cancerous tumors reflect more calibrate energy than healthy skin; also making it possible to identify diseased tissue by looking for reflectivity hotspots.

The latest tests were conducted on biopsies collected by surgeons from Hackensack University Medical Center. Tavassolian and Mirbeik-Sabzevari custom built antennae to generate high-resolution images; so of this biopsied tissue, and found they could map the tiny tumors as accurately as lab based testing. Cancerous cells reflect around 40% more calibrate energy than healthy tissue; also showing that millimeter-wave reflectivity is a reliable marker for cancerous tissue.

Developing a handheld device

They’ve show proof-of-concept that this technology can be used for rapidly detecting skin cancer, said Tavassolian. That’s a major step forward toward our ultimate goal of developing a handheld device; which would be safe to use directly on the skin for an almost instant diagnostic reading of specific kinds of skin cancer ; also including lethal melanomas base on their individual reflectivity signatures.

Since millimeter-wave rays penetrate the skin; so the scanners can generate real-time 3-D images of tumors that could guide surgeons and eliminate the need for multiple trial; also error biopsies to fully remove cancerous tissue. The devices could also be configure to interpret images automatically; also deliver basic diagnostic information such as a warning to get check out by a doctor without needing a train operator.

Mirbeik-Sabzevari, who began working on the technology five years ago; so as a graduate student in Tavassolian’s lab, is confident that this invention will prove a hit. As a postdoctoral fellow at Stevens and the 2019 inaugural recipient of the Paul Kaplan Award for Distinguish Doctoral Research, Mirbeik-Sabzevari plans to launch a startup to commercialize the scanners. He was the entrepreneurial lead on a customer discovery grant on this technology from the National Science Foundation.