Digital Health Innovation: New Non-Invasive Skin Cancer Test

A new research report published online in Nature Scientific Reports announced that a team of scientists have developed a special technique to detect the subtle differences in blood flow beneath the skin. The researchers used a laser technique to tell the difference between noncancerous moles and malignant melanoma.

The study was led by Pisa University in Italy and the Lancaster University. Researchers at Pisa University Hospital have monitored 55 patients with atypical moles.


Their skin was monitored using a laser Doppler system that recorded for around 30 minutes the complex interactions taking place in the blood vessels beneath their suspicious moles. Any fluctuations in recorded values were t analyzed using innovative methods developed by physicists at Lancaster University.

The patients participating in the study had their moles biopsied in order to compare the results with the information obtained noninvasively by using the laser Doppler scan. The results have proved that the laser Doppler signal was able to correctly identify 100% of the patients with a malignant skin.

Professor Aneta Stefanovska from Lancaster University explained that the research team used the existing body of knowledge about blood flow dynamics in order to choose the best markers that were consistently different in the blood vessels beneath normal skin and those supplying malignant moles.

Attempts to design a non-invasive diagnosis test for melanoma were made before.

But what is different for the new test, according to Professor Stefanovska is that by combining the new dynamical biomarkers the research team was able to create a test that has 90.9% specificity and 100% sensitivity.

That means that the new noninvasive test designed by their team can rule out melanoma in 90.9% of cases where it is not present, and identify melanoma in all cases where it is present.

Professor Marco Rossi from Pisa University added that diagnosis is vital for this particularly aggressive form of cancer which is skin malignant melanoma. An early diagnosis leads to a good prognosis and can save many lives.