Non-invasive laser technology could help bypass the need for biopsies

911561-melanomaEngineers and researchers from the University of Queensland have collaborated with the University of Leeds in England to create a new method of skin cancer detection that bypasses the need for biopsies.

Lead researcher, Dr Yah Leng Lim, from The University of Queensland’s School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, is a key member of the team that developed the ground-breaking laser imaging system that safely provides a different view of skin structure.

Dr Lim says it will reduce the need for biopsies in people who present with skin cancer symptoms such as lumps, bumps, moles and lesions.

“If cancer is detected, treatment usually involves the surgical removal of the lesions,” he said.

“The problem is that the visual examination is not always perfect. Treatment options, such as surgery, can overestimate the tumour extent, leading to the removal of healthy as well as damaged tissue.

“With a medical imaging system based on a terahertz laser, you can get a more accurate picture of what’s going on beneath the skin surface. The other big advantage is that it is harmless to humans.”

The technology is currently in its very early stages, but Dr Lim hopes one day it will become a common diagnosis tool for medical professionals.