Putting off having the doctor examine suspicious skin lesions because of unsightly skin removal could be a thing of the past as UQ researchers apply smart technology to the early detection, diagnosis and prediction of skin cancers.
In one breakthrough, researchers are using a microbiopsy device, which leaves only a pinprick-like wound behind and eliminates the unnecessary excision of suspicious looking lesions, which can turn out to be benign.
Institute Dermatology Research Centre Director, Professor Peter Soyer said the earlier skin cancer is detected the better the outcome.
“The device takes just a quarter of a millimetre of skin – about 1500 cells – removing the need for the anaesthetic and sutures required in traditional biopsies,” he said.
In another development, innovative 3D imaging technology is being used to track skin lesions of high-risk patients and assist in identifying changes to moles, which can provide early warning of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Researchers are also studying how mobile phones can be used by people to self-examine and track their own lesions and improve the early detection of cancers.
Meanwhile, advances in genomics are helping identify a patient’s potential genetic susceptibility to skin cancers.
“Some people who have moles and don’t go into the sun still have a propensity for melanoma due to their genetic background,” Professor Soyer said.
“Genomics, combined with known clinical risk factors, could help unlock and determine those at highest risk of developing melanoma.”