New Raman spectroscopic approach to skin cancer detection

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  • Published: Jul 8, 2015
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Raman
thumbnail image: New Raman spectroscopic approach to skin cancer detection

Scientists in Germany have developed a novel adaptation of Raman spectroscopy for differentiating skin cancer from normal skin, using a probe that examines the epidermis down to 200 µm and beyond.

The approach was described in Experimental Dermatology and may be an alternative to the highly subjective dermoscopic procedure that is currently the gold standard and involves visual examination with a light source and a magnifying glass.

The fibre probe was used to measure three spots on the lesion and six reference measurements on healthy skin nearby and the Raman spectra were compared. There were no obvious visual differences between the spectra for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers and normal skin but a statistical analysis proved more valuable.

Malignant melanomas were discriminated from pigmented moles with an accuracy of 91 percent and non-melanoma skin cancers were distinguished from normal skin with an accuracy of 73-85%. These success rates were comparable those of trained dermatoloists but could be applied as a complementary method because it is less subjective. However, by detecting signals from within the epidermis, the team hope to be able to detect cancers in their early stages, perhaps even before they show on the skin surface.

The researchers proposed that the Raman technique could be used to mark the margins of tumours during operation, which would ensure that no excess skin was removed to assist recovery. It could also be used for examining internal organs using an endoscope to carry the probe inside the body.

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