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Noninvasive Imaging Technology Distinguishes Between Benign and Malignant Skin Lesions

September 2014, Vol 5, No 7

Toronto, Ontario—New laser-based imaging technology differentiates malignant melanoma from other cancerous and benign skin lesions, according to a preliminary study presented at the 2014 Canadian Dermatology Association annual conference. The investigators are now refining the approach to differentiate between malignant melanoma and all types of nevus, a common category of benign skin pigmentation. This new imaging modality may lead to a reduction in the use of skin biopsies and the potential associated scars.

“We wanted to come up with a technology with high specificity, high sensitivity, and low cost to help clinicians in their decision of whether to biopsy or not,” Bahman Sotoodian, MD, of the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, told Value-Based Cancer Care.

Dr Sotoodian and his team created a device that uses blue and red lasers from 2 “maps” of skin lesions—a copolarized and a cross-polarized image, which correspond to the light reflected from the surface and deeper layers of the skin. The version of the device used in the preliminary study did not contain a lens and, therefore, the maps were of speckle patterns rather than true images.

The speckle-image analyses of benign and malignant skin lesions of 214 patients who received treatment at Vancouver General Hospital’s Skin Care Centre between 2008 and 2010 successfully distinguished between malignant melanoma and the benign lesion known as seborrheic keratosis (P = .001), with a sensitivity of 82% and a specificity of 78%.

The technique also accurately differentiated between seborrheic keratosis and nevus (P = .001), as well as between other malignant and benign pigmented skin lesions, but with less accuracy.

“We’re making some modifications to our optical apparatus, including adding some lenses,” in the quest to produce differentiations between malignant melanoma and nevus, Dr Sotoodian told Value-Based Cancer Care. The researchers are also adapting the mathematical analyses to a wider range of benign and malignant skin lesions.

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