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A hand-held device won the international Dyson award for its capability to quickly and precisely identify melanoma skin cancer.The low-cost device called sKan was developed by four graduates of McMaster University in Canada.The students, Michael Takla, Rotimi Fadiya, Prateek Mathur, and Shivad Bhavsar, tackled the challenges of diagnosing melanoma skin cancer, such as the inaccuracy of visual inspection and invasive and expensive biopsy test.
The most common early diagnostic method for melanoma is inspections using the naked eye, which can unreliable.A doctor can also perform a physical exam of the patient's entire body to find signs of melanoma.The doctor begins by asking the patient about any symptoms, such as when the unusual mark first appeared and changes in appearance or shape of the mark.Any medically relevant details will be noted by the physician including the color, size, shape, and texture of the area, and if there is any bleeding, oozing or crusting.After that, the doctor will inspect the other parts of the patient's body for moles or spots, and check the situation of the lymph nodes near the mark.A medical instrument called a dermatoscope, a special magnifying lens and light source, may be used to check the mark clearly.If the doctor suspects a melanoma, a biopsy test will be requested to make a definitive diagnosis.
In sKan, melanoma skin cancer is identified based on the thermal signals emitted by the malignant cells.Cancer cells have a higher metabolic rate compared to normal ones, thus more heat is released.Also, these abnormal cells regain heat faster than normal cells after applying thermal shock, such as from an ice pack.The hand-held device detects the thermal signals using thermistors to generate resistors sensitive to heat, called thermal heat mapping.When placed on a mole or spot, the device integrates a cluster of thermistors and tracks any return to ambient temperature after being cooled.Results are digitized and shown as a heat map to reveal any melanomas if present.
"By using widely available and inexpensive components, the sKan allows for melanoma skin cancer detection to be readily accessible to the many.It's a very clever device with the potential to save lives around the world," stated the research team.
The research team is planning to use the prize money from the award to improve sKan in order to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
Melanoma Skin Cancer
Any changes in the appearance or textures of your skin and any unusual growth of moles, sores, blemishes, and markings are possible indicators of melanoma.A normal mole is usually brown, tan or black in color.Moles can round, oval, flat or raised and about one-fourth inch in size.According to the American Cancer Society, the ABCDE rule can be used as a guide for the usual signs of melanoma.
A for asymmetry: If half of the birthmark, mole, or spot does not match the other.
B for border: If the edges of the spot are blurred, irregular, ragged or notched.
C for color: If the color of the mark has other shades unrelated to the original, such as patches or shades of pink, red, white or blue.
D for diameter: If the mole is larger than one-fourth inch.However, some melanomas may be smaller.
E for evolving: If the birthmark, mole or spot has any changes in color, shape or size.
There are other warning signs that you must know because some melanomas do not fit the ABCDE rule.Additional warning signs include a sore that never heals, a pigment spreading from the border of the spot to the surrounding area, any redness or swelling beyond the spot's border, unusual sensation around the spot like itchiness or pain, and weird changes like oozing, bumps, or bleeding.
Treatment of Melanoma
After your doctor confirms a melanoma diagnosis, a treatment will be planned in one or more options from five possible therapies depending on the stage of melanoma.
1.Surgery is the often used to treat early-stage melanoma.
2, Immunotherapy is used to stimulate the patient's immune system to destroy melanoma cancer cells.
3.Chemotherapy uses drugs that destroy cancer cells and are usually injected into a vein or administered as a pill.The treatment travels through the bloodstream and kills cancer cells that spread beyond the skin.
4.Targeted therapy is an alternative to chemotherapy to deliver drugs directly to the cancer cells with reduced side effects.It is also used by doctors in case standard chemotherapy fails to work.
5.Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays like x-rays to destroy cancer cells.However, this therapy usually used if surgery is not possible for some reason.It is also used to treat desmoplastic melanoma, a rare form of melanoma skin cancer in which malignant cells are surrounded by fibrous tissues.
- Actinic keratosis, a rough and scaly patch on the skin developed from years of sun exposure, is the most common indicator of skin cancer.
- About 9,730 people died from melanoma in 2017.
- Most cases of melanomas are caused by sun exposure; about 87 percent of cases attributed the ailment to ultraviolet radiation of the sun.