Lasers and sound waves offer skin cancer breakthrough

12 August 2014

A handheld device that that may change the way doctors treat and diagnose melanoma is ready for clinical trials.

Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis have been able to measure the depth of tumours using a photoacoustic microscope that shines laser beams into the skin. The differing light absorption properties of healthy cells and those with a dangerously high concentration of melanin creates a pattern of high-frequency acoustic waves that can then be turned into a three-dimensional image.

The technique is thought to be potentially more accurate than ultrasound or MRI and easier and less invasive than biopsy.

The instrument, which was described in the Optical Society's journal in August, was successfully tested on both artificial tumours made of black gelatin and on real ones in live mice.The team is now conducting further tests with human patients and the device will have to prove effective in clinical trials before it is widely available.

Privacy Policy
We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.